GOP senators object to climate planning directive for federal agencies

Six Senate Republicans blasted the Obama administration’s proposal to change how federal agencies consider climate change in environmental impact reviews.

The Republicans, led by Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.), argued Thursday that the draft guidance from the White House is an illegal expansion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).


The draft from December says all federal agencies should consider the potential climate change effects of any project they approve or other action they take that requires an environmental review.

For the first time, the draft would mandate that agencies consider climate in land and resource management decisions.

“We are deeply disappointed that the administration is continuing down a path that is both illegitimate and irresponsible,” they said, urging the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality to withdraw the proposal.

“Failure to do so will paralyze agency action, including actions needed to create jobs and grow our economy, by requiring endless and meaningless analyses and creating new opportunities for litigation to delay and block important projects.”

Inhofe is the Senate’s most vocal skeptic of climate change, and he argued, along with his colleagues, that NEPA cannot be used for climate.

The senators said the greenhouse gases cannot be proved to be a cause of climate change and the federal government’s actions can therefore not be linked to it, among other arguments.

Environmentalists disagreed with the Senate Republicans’ letter.

The Climate Action Reserve said that it ”encourages and supports efforts to improve consideration of the effects of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions and climate change in the evaluation of proposals for federal actions under the National Environmental Policy Act.”

The draft guidance, the group said “proposes sensible criteria for how and when federal agencies should consider the effects of agency actions on GHG emissions, as well as what to consider in evaluating GHG effects and mitigation alternatives.”