WASHINGTON, DC JANUARY 9: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event to unveil significant changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on January 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. The changes to the nations landmark environmental law would make it easier for federal agencies to approve infrastructure projects without considering climate change. President Trump also took several questions from reporters, including questions of Iran and impeachment. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFPUS President Donald Trump’s administration announced Thursday sweeping changes to an environmental law that critics said guts oversight requirements in the construction of highways, airports and pipelines and allows the government to ignore their impact on climate change.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1970, all major infrastructure projects must be subject to an environmental impact assessment by federal agencies.
NEPA was the US’s first major environmental law and designed “to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony.” It has proved an obstacle to Trump’s efforts to accelerate fossil fuel extraction.