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White House rescinds Trump proposal to limit greenhouse gas consideration in infrastructure decisions

White House rescinds Trump proposal to limit greenhouse gas consideration in infrastructure decisions
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The White House on Thursday rescinded a Trump-era draft guidance that proposed to limit the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions in infrastructure decisions.

The 2019 draft guidance sought to limit consideration of long-term greenhouse gas emissions by preventing consideration of impacts deemed “remote or speculative,” in analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“Today’s action is a first step toward providing greater certainty in the Federal environmental review process, and will help Federal agencies put their decisions on firmer legal and scientific footing,” said a statement from Jomar Maldonado, the associate director for NEPA at the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). 

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NEPA requires environmental impact analyses to be carried out ahead of projects like pipelines, highways and drilling on public lands. 

The 2019 guidance aimed to replace an Obama administration guidance. The Trump administration billed its move as a way to expedite federal permits. 

“CEQ’s draft guidance is intended to assist agencies in meeting their obligations under NEPA and to improve the timeliness of permitting decisions for projects to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” CEQ Chairwoman Mary Neumayr said in a statement at the time. 

The Obama guidance, issued in 2016, recommended that agencies use projected greenhouse gas emissions when preparing the analyses as a stand-in for estimating a project’s climate change impacts.

In its statement on Thursday, the White House said that it will review and “as necessary, revise and update” the 2016 policy.

In the meantime, it is encouraging agencies to consider all available resources in considering climate change impacts of their actions, including the 2016 guidance “as appropriate and relevant.”