Current environmental law has reduced incidents like these from becoming a common occurrence. Start getting used to seeing this and many other insults to American byways, highways, and from your neighborhoods to streams and rivers, to our shorelines when the impact of Trump’s rulings take hold. NOAA image credit.

Lisa Friedman reports on climate and environmental policy in Washington. A former editor at Climatewire, she has covered nine international climate talks. @LFFriedman

Trump’s Move Against Landmark Environmental Law Caps a Relentless Agenda

By Lisa Friedman / New York Times / January 9, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday capped a three-year drive to roll back clean air and water protections by proposing stark changes to the nation’s oldest and most established environmental law that could exempt major infrastructure projects from environmental review.

The revisions to the law — the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, a landmark measure that touches nearly every highway, bridge, pipeline, and other major federal construction in the country — underscored Mr. Trump’s focus on stripping away regulations, to the consternation of conservationists. In the middle of a foreign-policy crisis and on the cusp of an impeachment trial in the Senate, Mr. Trump appeared in his element on Thursday, flanked by men in hard hats and orange safety vests.

“America’s most critical infrastructure projects have been tied up and bogged down by an outrageously slow and burdensome federal approval process, and I’ve been talking about it for a long time,” he said.

Mr. Trump, who made his fortune as a real estate developer, spoke as if personally aggrieved: “The builders are not happy. Nobody’s happy.”

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has proposed nearly 100 environmental rollbacks, including weakening protections for endangered species, relaxing rules that limit emissions from coal plants, and blocking the phaseout of older incandescent light bulbs. Hundreds of thousands of public comments against the president’s moves have flowed in. Scientists have spoken out in opposition. Democrats have vowed to stop him, all with little effect.

“He sees himself as the kingpin of an anti-federal-regulatory movement,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University who has written about environmental policy.

But haste and zeal may work against the administration. Nearly 70 lawsuits filed have challenged the administration’s deregulatory moves, asserting that officials have violated federal procedures in their rollback efforts. The Trump administration has, so far, been successful just four times, according to the New York University School of Law data.

Some of Mr. Trump’s moves have never been tried before, . . . 

Read the complete story

Featured Image: Rio Tinto River. Photo by Carol Stoker from NASA Ames Research Center. The glory days of greed are back and logging and mining laws have new friends in a high places.

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