FACT CHECK: Do NEPA Changes “Roll Back” Environmental Protections?

CLAIM: Critics of President Trump’s announced updates to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) said his action is stripping away environmental regulations.

The New York Times, for example, called it a “roll back” of environmental protections:

President Trump on Thursday capped a three-year drive to roll back clean air and water protections by proposing stark changes to the nation’s oldest and most established environmental law that could exempt major infrastructure projects from environmental review.

Reps. Diana DeGette and Francis Rooney  urged lawmakers to oppose the changes:

“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.”






President Trump’s proposed changes modernize outdated regulations that have hindered American investment and development of our nation’s energy infrastructure. While NEPA’s fundamental goal of carefully considering the environmental impact of major projects is important, unnecessary bureaucratic delays should not come at the expense of American jobs and critical infrastructure improvements.

As the White House noted, the “proposal is the first comprehensive update to the regulations that implement the NEPA law in over 40 years, and evidence demonstrates these changes are sorely needed. According to CEQ data, completing the average environmental impact statement process takes 4.5 years. The delay is worse for highway projects in particular, with many statements taking over 6 years and some reviews taking decades.”

Those delays have allowed anti-energy activists to weaponize NEPA to prevent development of our nation’s energy resources, which is a dangerous risk considering the ongoing global uncertainty in the Middle East and South America.

Environmental stewardship and responsible development of our energy resources should go hand-in-hand. The proposed changes to NEPA maintain the importance of environmental protections while also ensuring regulatory certainty, limiting red tape, and streamlining the permitting and approval process for key infrastructure projects that will benefit millions of American families.