Columbia – Center on Global Energy Policy | A Chance to Get Some Key Environmental Rules Right

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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process plays a critical role in the development of the nation’s infrastructure in that it was meant to be a tool based in sound science and analysis for considering environmental impacts as we make important infrastructure decisions.  Unfortunately, over the last 50 years, it has often become an expensive and years-long slog of administrative processes and litigation. It is time to fix the NEPA process and the Trump administration’s proposed rule changes provide a window of opportunity to do that.

We need to fix the NEPA process now. That’s not a political statement — it’s just reality. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates we need to invest $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years to fix and update the country’s infrastructure. The economic consequences of not making this investment will reach $4 trillion in GDP losses and $7 trillion in lost business sales by 2025 alone. These numbers rise further if we include investments that are vital to responding to the immediate threat of climate change, such as infrastructure, to improve the resilience of our energy systems and technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.