The White House on Friday proposed reversing an Obama-era policy that directs agencies to consider the climate impact from various projects.
The draft guidance would change the way agencies evaluate the environmental effect of things like pipelines and oil and gas drilling.
“Agencies should analyze reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences of major Federal actions, but should not consider those that are remote or speculative,” the guidance said in a section about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The document added that agencies “need not give greater consideration to potential effects from GHG emissions than to other potential effects on the human environment.”
The guidance from the White House Council on Environmental Quality comes just days after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a rollback of Obama-era regulation on emissions from power plants.
The guidance directs agencies to consider greenhouse gas emissions when “substantial enough to warrant quantification.” Agencies do not have to consider how a project might impact greenhouse emissions if doing so would be “overly speculative.”
It reverses a 2016 rule from the same council that directed agencies to analyze how the projects they approve will contribute to climate change. Trump withdrew the Obama-era guidance in April 2017.
Environmental groups called the proposal an attack on environmental protection.
“Once again, the Trump administration is more than willing to change the rules to benefit their corporate polluter friends. Today’s actions do nothing but turn a blind eye to the climate crisis while further stripping oversight and safeguards in an effort to aid the fossil fuel industry,” the Sierra Club said in a statement, vowing to fight the proposal.
Lawmakers were sharply divided on the proposal, with Republicans praising the administration for removing hurdles for energy development and Democrats warning that the proposed rule would negatively impact the climate.
“This proposed guidance will help ensure that major energy projects in Wyoming and across the country can move forward without needless delays and litigation,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Manchin, Barrasso announce bill to revegetate forests after devastating fires Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs MORE (R-Wyo.), head of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.
Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs EPA finalizes rule cutting use of potent greenhouse gas used in refrigeration The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - US speeds evacuations as thousands of Americans remain in Afghanistan MORE (Del.), his Democratic counterpart on the committee, disagreed.
“The Council on Environmental Quality should be concerned about improving our nation’s environmental quality and coordinating federal actions to reduce greenhouse gases,” Carper said in a statement. “The draft guidance released today would help to accomplish neither of those things—it would actually do the opposite, accelerating dirty fossil fuel projects. It ignores science, disregards the courts and really wouldn’t provide good ‘guidance’ for agencies at all.”