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WildEarth Guardians Condemns Trump Administration Plans to Destroy Nation’s Bedrock Environmental Law

February 11, 2020
Jeremy Nichols, (303) 437-7663, jnichols@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
Denver—WildEarth Guardians is among a diverse coalition today leading a high profile charge to protect the National Environmental Policy Act, the United States’ basic charter for environmental protection, from an assault by the Trump administration.

“This isn’t just an assault on the National Environmental Policy Act, it’s an attack on communities, Tribes, people of color, families, and everyone else who depends on a just and healthy environment,” said John Horning, Executive Director of WildEarth Guardians.  “Our federal government must be accountable to people, not polluters. We will oppose at every step Trump’s attempt to deny our citizenry and weaken our democracy by gutting this bedrock environmental law.”

At a public hearing in downtown Denver, WildEarth Guardians and allies will call on the White House Council on Environmental Quality to abandon a proposal to roll back National Environmental Policy Act regulations.

As part of its testimony, Guardians will deliver a petition with more than 15,000 signatures of Americans opposing the rollbacks.

Passed 50 years ago, the National Environmental Policy Act ensures federal agencies analyze and fully disclose the environmental impacts of its activities. It also gives the public the right to be involved and to influence federal actions that may affect their environment. It’s described as “our basic national charter for protection of the environment” and the Magna Carta of U.S. environmental law.

WildEarth Guardians and other environmental, health, and community watchdogs frequently use the National Environmental Policy Act to defend public lands, wildlife, rivers, the climate, and health.

Just last month, Guardians filed suit in federal court to block the sale of nearly two million acres of public lands for fracking in five western states over the federal government’s failure to account for climate impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“We need the checks of the National Environmental Policy Act to ensure our federal government stays true to its obligation to put the American public first, not polluters,” said Sarah McMillan, Conservation Director for WildEarth Guardians.  “It’s a critical cornerstone to assure that Americans have a voice and that our government prioritizes the protection of clean air and water, wildlife, climate, public lands, and more.”

Last month, the Council published draft regulations that would completely rewrite the National Environmental Policy Act. The proposal would eliminate environmental review requirements in many cases, reduce public involvement in the activities of agencies, and allow the federal government to ignore the cumulative environmental impacts of its actions.

As part of the rollbacks, the Council scheduled only two public hearings, one in Denver and one in Washington, D.C. At today’s hearing in Denver, which will take place at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters at 1595 Wynkoop, only a little over 100 people were allowed to register to speak.

WildEarth Guardians will be among the speakers testifying. Together with Tribal leaders, Indigenous peoples, state and local government officials, grassroots advocates, ranchers, hunters, recreationists, climate activists, parents, and many others, Guardians will call on the Council on Environmental Quality to back down from the rollbacks.

In conjunction with the hearing, a day of action is planned across the street at the Alliance Center, a nonprofit environmental advocacy hub located at 1536 Wynkoop. Dubbed the “Peoples Hearing,” the events include an 8:30 AM press conference, a noon rally, and key voices speaking out throughout the day.

The aim of the rally will be to give a voice to the many Americans who were denied the opportunity to speak directly to the Council on Environmental Quality. Hundreds are expected to attend throughout the day.

More Statements from WildEarth Guardians Conservation Program Directors:

“The National Environmental Policy Act has been a critical tool for defending wildlife in the American West from indiscriminate and cruel killing by the federal agency, Wildlife Services,” said Lindsay Larris, Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.  “Only under the law have we been able to hold Wildlife Services accountable to confronting the disastrous consequences of its actions on wildlife and ecosystems. We must protect this law in order to protect our natural world from careless, short-sighted government action.”

“There is no doubt that without the National Environmental Policy Act, our public lands in the American West would be sacrificed to private corporate interests,” said Judi Brawer, Wild Places Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.  “The law levels the playing field and ensures the interests of American public comes before well-heeled private interests bent on exploiting our shared resources at the expense of our health and environment.”

“Trump’s attack on the National Environmental Policy Act gravely threatens living rivers and clean water in the American West,” said Jen Pelz, Wild Rivers Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “This law is key to giving communities a voice and the power to defend rivers against the private interests that seek to pollute, dam and divert these vital arteries of life.”

“With the climate crisis upon us, the National Environmental Policy Act has proven a critical check on the Trump administration’s blatant climate denial,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.  “Without a doubt, the fossil fuel industry is driving these rollbacks and we won’t back down until we’ve thwarted their callous disregard to the health of our communities and our planet.”