Bipartisan lawmakers attempt to drum up opposition to proposed changes of environmental law

Bipartisan lawmakers attempt to drum up opposition to proposed changes of environmental law
© Greg Nash

Reps. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Trump names Pence to lead coronavirus response Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing MORE (D-Colo.) and Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyLessons from the front line — Florida's fight with sea level rise Overnight Energy: Trump issues rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections | Pelosi slams new rule as 'an outrageous assault' | Trump water policy exposes sharp divides 2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' MORE (R-Fla.) sent a letter to the entire House on Thursday, urging their colleagues to oppose President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE's proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Trump earlier that day outlined changes he hopes to make to the rule that would allow more industry involvement in environmental reviews and lessen the extent to which climate change is a factor in those assessments.  

"We invite you to join us in expressing our strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s plans, announced today, to revise the regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in a way that, among other things, ignores the full extent of the climate crisis," DeGette and Rooney wrote in their letter. 

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The members of Congress went on to talk about the damage that human-caused climate change has had in the U.S already. 

"With billions of dollars in damage already being inflicted on our homes, businesses and infrastructure from storms, floods, and wildfires exacerbated by human-caused climate change; with health impacts already being experienced from increased heat waves, pollution and disease vectors; and with threats to our national security already being amplified by climate impacts in other countries, turning a blind eye towards climate change is exactly the wrong direction for federal policy to take," they added. 

The proposed changes to the NEPA were also met with opposition from some Democrats and environmental groups on Thursday like Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), who described the alterations as neutering the law that ensures the government accounts for climate change.

“We didn’t need more proof that the fossil fuel industry has hardwired the Trump administration to deliver on its interests, but we got it anyway,” he said.  

Trump administration officials spoke out in favor of the proposal.

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Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said on a call to present the proposal that NEPA has “paralyzed commonsense decision making for a generation.”

"This is a really, really big proposal. It affects virtually every big decision made by the federal government that affects the environment, and I think it will be the most significant deregulatory proposal you ultimately implement," he also told President Trump.