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Lawsuit challenges Trump change to federal environmental law

Associated Press

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 27 states, territories, cities and agencies in suing the Trump administration over what she said was an effort to gut a law requiring that federal agencies comprehensively assess the impact of their actions on the environment.

The complaint was filed in the Northern District of California on Friday by state attorneys general and argues the administration’s rule violates the National Environmental Policy Act.

Healey said the Trump administration rule will drastically curtail environmental reviews for projects undertaken, permitted, or funded by nearly every federal agency.

She said the rule will also have serious repercussions for states by causing inadequate consideration of climate and environmental justice impacts.

“To benefit his development and fossil fuel industry friends, President Trump is pushing forward a damaging and unlawful rule that will undermine our nation’s cornerstone environmental law and exacerbate the existing health disparities for our Black and Brown communities,” Healey said in a press release.

Trump last month announced he is rolling back the environmental law that he says stifles infrastructure projects, but that is credited with keeping big construction projects from fouling up the environment and ensuring there is public input on major projects.

“Together we’re reclaiming America’s proud heritage as a nation of builders and a nation that can get things done,” Trump said.

The 1970 law changed environmental oversight in the United States by requiring federal agencies to consider whether a project would harm the air, land, water or wildlife, and giving the public the right of review and input.

Healey said the law has led to more informed decisions and has given affected communities a voice in the decision-making process.

She said the new rule will “dramatically limit and reduce the number and types of projects subject to NEPA review, constrain and narrow the scope of impacts and alternatives considered, and drastically curtail or eliminate analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts.”

The attorneys general of California, the District of Columbia, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin have joined the lawsuit.