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More than 320 groups seek more time to comment on Trump environmental law changes

More than 320 groups seek more time to comment on Trump environmental law changes
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A coalition of more than 320 groups will ask the White House to extend its comment period on planned changes to a bedrock environmental law. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE this month announced the proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which would allow greater industry involvement in environmental reviews of projects and reduce the role climate change plays in those assessments.

On Monday, the coalition will send a letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) asking for the extension. 

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"Currently, the Trump administration is offering an extremely short 60-day public comment period and mere two public hearings," said a statement from the groups. 

A CEQ spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the council has "engaged in extensive public outreach" and is "considering additional opportunities to engage the public."

"CEQ received over 12,500 comments, which have informed CEQ’s proposed rule," the spokesperson said. "We will evaluate all comments and consider extension requests as we receive them."

Major opponents of the changes have included environmental groups, who argue that it would allow the government to turn a blind eye when projects emit large quantities of greenhouse gases. They are also among those asking for the longer comment period. 

“The Trump administration is silencing the people’s voices for the sake of polluters’ profits," said Stephen Schima, Senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice, in the statement. "Rushed comment periods, hearings held at odd daytime hours to discourage working families from attending, and space so limited that the room fills up in five minutes – it all adds up to a concerted effort to sideline communities." 

"Shutting out public input on this latest egregious attack on our environmental protections adds insult to injury,” said Matthew Gravatt, deputy legislative director for Sierra Club. “Our communities will not be silenced about the threats posed by this administration’s dangerous pro-polluter agenda.” 

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Meanwhile, proponents of the changes to NEPA have argued that the law has slowed down construction and infrastructure projects. 

“From Day One, my administration has made fixing this regulatory nightmare a top priority. And we want to build new roads, bridges, tunnels, highways bigger, better, faster, and we want to build them at less cost,” President Trump said this month. 

Updated: 6:04 p.m.