President Donald Trump has already angered environmentalists for his skepticism that the planet is hurtling toward an irreversible apocalypse, and now the White House has announced plans to address environmental rules that slow down major construction projects.
The announcement on Jan. 9 said the President is proposing rule changes to “modernize and accelerate” environmental reviews required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
Myron Ebell, who analyzes energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the White House is attempting to fix “problems” that have materialized since the legislation became federal law in 1970.
“It's a reasonable law that says that the federal government must do a review of the environmental impacts of major federal projects,” Ebell advises. “But what has happened over the years is it's turned into a kind of Chinese water torture designed to delay projects to death."
The rules don’t just affect federal projects but also major private projects such as new mining operations, and right now opponents of such projects can use the federal law to delay them for decades, Ebell warns.
The announcement was met with predictabe anger by environmental groups such as Sierra Club, which routinely sues to restrict mining operations across the country, such as a Montana coal mine and a phosphate mining operation in Florida.
Sierra Club’s executive director vowed the group will “pursue every available avenue to fight back against Trump's shameless attack on our clean air and water, the climate, and our families' health.”
Ebell predicts environmental groups will work together to sue the Trump administration, adding that President Trump is right to claim the numerous lawsuits are one reason U.S. infrastructure is aging and falling apart, when it once led the world.
"We're the only country in the world where major projects can be delayed for 10 or 15 years,” Ebell tells OneNewsNow, “so this is a very important change that could have very profound consequences for the American economy."