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Archbishop welcomes the restoration of environmental rules for federal project

Archbishop welcomes the restoration of environmental rules for federal project

WASHINGTON A White House initiative that will restore regulatory provisions that have been in place for decades under a key environmental protection law was welcomed by the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in Oklahoma City, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley said that the provisions under the National Environmental Policy Act have been restored and will be a vital safeguard against social and ecological harm.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality restored three provisions that require federal agencies consider the environmental impact of infrastructure projects, including climate change. The restored regulations will also give local communities directly impacted by such projects the opportunity to provide greater input in the approval process.

Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, the council made significant changes to NEPA regulations 2020 to significantly reduce the time frame and scope of federal review.

The White House of Biden said April 19, however that the changes caused challenges for federal agencies in implementing them and confusion between stakeholders.

Brenda Mallory, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, announced that the provisions would be restored. She said in a statement that they will provide regulatory certainty and reduce conflict to ensure projects are built correctly the first time.

She explained that patching the gaps in the environmental review process will allow projects to be built faster, more resilient, and provide greater benefits for those who live near them.

Coakley pointed out that the USCCB opposed the removal of the policies in 2020.

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He said that we recognized the need to reform NEPA to make it more efficient and effective. We also advocated for regulatory continuity. The archbishop stated that we are optimistic that the new rule will establish a long-term path for stability in environmental regulation, as our country continues to move towards environmental justice and stewardship.

He said that this new rule offers an opportunity to design infrastructure projects that promote authentic human growth and stewardship for creation.

These provisions go into effect May 20.

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