Trump’s Environmental Permitting Update to Spark Legal Frenzy — Bloomberg Law #NEPA

A view of the interchange of Highway 60 and Interstate 710 during the coronavirus pandemic on April 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The county’s stay-at-home order has drastically decreased the traffic flow in and around Los Angeles. Photo credit: Roger Kisby/High Country News

From Bloomberg Law (Ellen M. Gilmer, Stephen Lee, and Jennifer A. Dlouhy):

States and environmental coalitions are set to wage multiple challenges to President Donald Trump’s overhaul of federal requirements for environmental permitting, setting up long-term regulatory uncertainty and the potential for a checkerboard of rules across the country.

Trump unveiled the plan Wednesday, replacing Nixon-era rules for how federal agencies conduct reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. The changes are aimed at streamlining permitting timelines for major projects down to two years, Trump said in public remarks in Atlanta…

Yet the move poses risks for developers and federal agencies alike. Congress hasn’t rewritten the requirements in the underlying, 50-year-old environmental law, and streamlined reviews that fall short of its mandates could be struck down in court.

“Even though the president has said that he wants to make this process more efficient and effective, it’s going to make it even worse, because it’s going to create more litigation and uncertainty,” said Sharon Buccino, senior director of the lands division at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The controversy and the confusion around these projects is going to increase, rather than decrease.”

The administration’s critics are already sharpening their legal tools, vowing courtroom fights over how the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality crafted the new regulation.

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