White House delays agency changes to environmental law procedures under Trump rule by two years

White House delays agency changes to environmental law procedures under Trump rule by two years
© (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Government departments will get two extra years to update their procedures to accommodate Trump-era changes that weakened the implementation of a bedrock environmental law. 

The White House Council on Environmental Quality on Monday announced an interim final rule giving departments two extra years to propose updates to their procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

They were originally required to propose changes to how they would carry out the Trump-era NEPA rollback by September but will now be able to wait until September 2023. 

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Meanwhile, the environment council is reviewing and expected to make changes to the 2020 Trump rule. 

It said in a statement that the deadline will make sure agencies “avoid expending their limited resources developing procedures to conform with regulations that may soon be updated,” meaning that the Biden administration could make changes to the rule by the time agencies have to update their procedures under the Trump rule.

NEPA requires environmental reviews ahead of projects such as pipelines, highways, and drilling or other major actions on public lands.

Among the changes the Trump administration put in place were setting a goal to reduce the time that these reviews take from an average of 4 ½ years to about two years and allowing for more industry involvement in the process. 

That rule gave government agencies until this September to propose new procedures “to implement the ... regulations and eliminate any inconsistencies.”