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New York joins lawsuit against Trump administration over federal environment laws

August 31, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Attorney General Letitia James announced on Friday that her office has joined with a coalition of 23 attorneys general to file a lawsuit that challenges the Trump administration’s rollback of requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“The Trump Administration’s attempt to undermine the National Environmental Policy Act is yet another example of its unapologetic, relentless dismantling of our nation’s environmental protections,” said Attorney General James. “By restricting the types of projects that undergo environmental review prior to their construction, it puts both our communities and our environment in harm’s way.”

The complaint written by the attorneys general claims that a newly enacted “Final Rule” will limit compliance to the act, narrow the government’s ability to consider environmental impacts, and could potentially kill the public participation process.

“The Final Rule strikes at the heart of NEPA — violating NEPA’s text and purpose, including NEPA’s clear mandate that agencies comply with the statute ‘to the fullest extent possible’ … abandoning informed decision-making, public participation, and environmental and public health protection,” the 80-page complaint said.

NEPA was enacted in 1969, and it requires that before any federal agency undertakes “major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” that it considers the implication of those impacts and potential alternatives to mitigate issues.

When the Trump administration announced the “Final Rule” on July 15, federal agencies no longer had the same comprehensive evaluation protocols for the environment and public health, the Attorney General’s Office contends.

The Attorney General’s Office claims that the “Final Rule” violates NEPA because it goes against language within the act, is an arbitrary and capricious abuse of discretion, and was carried out without evaluating the impact that it would have on the environment.

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