This Summer, the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced their second phase of improvements to their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The new proposal will formally require agencies to incorporate environmental justice and climate considerations. These improvements were initiated by the Biden Administration to rollback the harmful restrictions put in place by the Trump Administration.
For over fifty years, NEPA has been our nation's bedrock environmental law rooted in transparency, accountability and public input. It is an indispensable tool that Latine communities have used to protect themselves and the natural environment. Strengthening these regulations will help us swiftly and equitably build out clean energy infrastructure while keeping us safe from dangerous projects that place communities in harm's way.
TAKE ACTION: Express your Support for CEQ'S Phase II NEPA Regulations
Attn: Council of Environmental Quality
I am writing to you today to express my support for the environmental justice and climate considerations in your proposed regulations to strengthen NEPA and believe the additional demands listed below should be incorporated in the final rule to ensure a truly robust regulation. This Summer's wildfires, extreme heat waves, and hurricanes only reaffirms what our communities already know: The most severe effects of the climate crisis are disproportionately felt by the Latine community, especially those that are low-income. Latines are more likely to be put in danger, disenfranchised, ill, and even die from climate-exacerbated natural disasters and other environmental harms.
As we begin to phase out fossil fuels and federal clean energy investments begin to flow, we must ensure this new infrastructure is built out in a just and equitable manner. NEPA has been an effective tool for our communities to prevent polluting projects from impacting the health and environment of our neighborhoods and I look forward to the following improvements to be finalized no later than Spring 2024.
The final NEPA regulations must:
1. Require agencies to consider project alternatives that would decrease impacts on air, water, and land while also looking at cumulative impacts' communities face from exposure to numerous pollutants.
2. Reaffirm NEPA as a tool for environmental justice that gives communities the ability to have meaningful input in the project development process while helping avoid disproportionate impacts on frontline communities.
3. Require translation and interpretation at every step of the public input process including announcement of public notices in English as well as any required alternative languages in all available venues. This includes email announcements, physical public notices posted in community points of interests, websites, social media, and other forms of media.
4. Require agencies to include future climate impacts when considering new projects. Analyzing these risks will result in safer, more resilient infrastructure for communities.
5. Mandate more transparency in the project development process by requiring a timely release of documents and a minimum 30-day comment period for community review.
6. Enshrine tribal consultation and respect for tribal sovereignty throughout the project development process.
7. Ensure a strong NEPA process that addresses the need to build out the clean energy transition in close consultation with communities most impacted by energy development.
Thank you for taking these comments into consideration.