CEQ Rejects 167 Congressional Members’ Request for Extended Public Comment Period on Trump Administration’s NEPA Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper, top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement after the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) rejected widespread calls for a longer public comment period for its proposed rule that would drastically weaken implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In January, Senator Carper and 166 of his Congressional colleagues urged CEQ to extend the public comment period for its proposal and allow more time for Americans to learn about its sweeping impacts. Yesterday, CEQ rejected the Congressional members’ request for a longer public comment period.

“Like our Constitution, the National Environmental Policy Act is one of our nation’s most enduring and replicated laws. The same principles of democracy and citizen participation that are enshrined in our Constitution are also enshrined in NEPA. For the last half century, NEPA has not only ensured environmental protection, but has also ensured the American people have a real say in the federal decision-making process.

“The Trump Administration has given the American people only 60 days to defend NEPA and, ultimately, their voice. To say I am disappointed with CEQ’s dismissal of our concerns and rejection of our request is an understatement. Americans have not been afforded sufficient opportunity to review and comment on this proposal. This process is antithetical to the principles of democracy upon which NEPA was built. Instead, this process is a charade—one that demonstrates the Trump Administration does not really intend to address the needs of all stakeholders, only its own entrenched interests. Public involvement is not just a matter of receiving comments, it means taking those comments into consideration and acting upon them. And given this response to widespread calls for a more substantial comment period, I have no reason to believe that CEQ will act on the public interest.

“We have made changes to our Constitution over the years, but those changes were made rarely and with great forethought. I’m afraid this proposal is not the product of great forethought, far from it, and it threatens to undo the years of progress we’ve made to improve environmental quality and protect public health. I urge all Americans to speak out, defend NEPA and protect their voice before this short public comment period closes.”