Letter: We need the NEPA
Exercising freedom of speech is essential to holding the government accountable. We can and must ensure that our perspectives are considered, especially when decisions are being made that will directly affect us and our communities.
The National Environmental Policy Act — NEPA — is one law that codifies this process. NEPA, which became law 50 years ago, mandates that major development projects take into consideration not only economic impacts but also environmental and social ones. It prioritizes research and evidence-based decision making. Critically, it gives the American public the right to weigh in on projects in their communities.
Naturally, last week, Trump announced the gutting of NEPA. This is yet another move to exploit the current pandemic and discount the input of the American people.
Trump’s order limits environmental reviews, removes the obligation to consider cumulative environmental impacts, such as climate change, and drastically limits the opportunity for the public to comment on projects. Without adequate review and public input, especially from those who will be directly affected by development projects, some will be poorly planned, shortsighted and harmful to public health and the environment.
Trump’s dismantling of NEPA is an attack on our voice, our health and the health of our planet. Our right to comment on governmental decisions is fundamental. If we can no longer speak out through the NEPA, we should let Trump hear us on Nov. 3.
Dr. Athena Renee Murray
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