President Joe Biden says he wants to build a whole lot more infrastructure — but he just made it a lot harder for the government to do it by putting up some more red tape.
According to the Washington Times, the Biden administration reversed a Trump administration policy on Tuesday that rolled back climate-related regulations that had been applied to infrastructure plans, potentially making it more difficult for the government to build.
“The 1970-era National Environmental Policy Act requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impact of proposed projects,” the Times reported.
“The Trump administration had slashed such requirements in an effort to cut red tape and speed up the permitting process for construction.”
So, what would the practical effects of reversing Trump’s decision mean?
Thanks to the re-implementation of the policy, government agencies will have to calculate the impact the project will have on the environment before any construction begins — and not just pollution or greenhouse gases.
They’ll also have to take into account how the projects will affect poor and minority neighborhoods and potential ways environmental and public health costs can be minimized.
The move may be one of timing for Biden. Last week, he broke one of his campaign promises and opened up new leases on federal land for oil and gas exploration due to higher fuel prices and runaway inflation.
The move angered not only environmentalist groups but also some Democrats.
This move, however, got the stamp of approval from his allies.
“The previous administration stripped and gutted NEPA protections, effectively blocking federal agencies from taking climate change and public input into account when they make major decisions that affect our environment and the health of our communities,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.
Environmentalist law nonprofit Earthjustice, meanwhile, said it would engender “government accountability, better projects with more community buy-in and less litigation.”
However, oil-and-gas trade association American Petroleum Institute noted the likely drawbacks to the plan.
“Once again, the administration‘s policy actions aren’t matching their rhetoric regarding the need for more American energy production, and we urge the administration to change course and establish a timely and efficient permitting process that supports the energy security needs of the U.S. and our allies overseas,” said Frank Macchiarola, the American Petroleum Institute’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs.