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August 28, 2020
Contact: Tom Lalley

State Attorneys General Challenge Unprecedented and Unlawful Rewrite of NEPA Regulations

David J. Hayes criticizes administration's brazen attempt to undermine NEPA, commends AGs for once again serving as "last line of defense."

Washington, D.C. — A coalition of 23 attorneys general filed a lawsuit today challenging the Trump administration’s “unlawful, unjustified and sweeping revisions” to the regulations that guide implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The lawsuit challenges a final rule published by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in July that narrows the range of projects, impacts and alternatives that must be considered by federal agencies, establishes arbitrary time constraints and page limits on NEPA reviews, and curtails meaningful public participation and input. David J. Hayes, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law and former Interior Deputy Secretary in the Obama and Clinton administrations, released the following statement:

"State attorneys general again are stepping up, this time to stop the Trump administration from going back on the basic 'good government' promise that before federal officials approve major projects, they must review potential adverse impacts, make them public, and hear the views of affected citizens. 

"The administration’s final NEPA rule shatters that long-standing legal promise embedded in one of our nation's earliest and most important environmental laws, the National Environmental Policy Act.

"In particular, the final rule abandons any environmental review for broad categories of project approvals that will leave our most vulnerable citizens — including many already impacted by historic, unjust environmental harms — voiceless and at the mercy of an administration that favors industry profits over Americans’ health and well-being. And when reviews are begrudgingly undertaken, the new rule enables officials to downplay or skip altogether serious analyses of climate impacts and health dangers associated with proposed projects and connected activities.

"We should not need to rely on our last line of defense — state attorneys general — to enforce the rule of law. But here we are again, needing to turn to state legal officers and the federal courts to right the latest national environmental wrongs that the Trump administration is imposing on the American people."


About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center (State Impact Center) is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advocate for clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. For more information, visit our website