Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) led 54 of their Congressional colleagues in urging the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to release public records about the Trump Administration’s implementation of the president’s executive order signed June 4, 2020. The Executive Order would undermine bedrock public health and environmental protections, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act, so that the Trump administration can advance a select number of infrastructure projects without public disclosure.

 

The president’s Executive Order 13927, “Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investments and Other Activities,” calls for agencies to provide reports to the White House listing projects, activities, and decisions that the agencies will attempt to move forward under expedited review. However, on June 7, 2020, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Chase Jennings told reporters that, “These reports are not public.”

“Projects listed in these reports are federal, relate directly to federal agency actions and decisions that are funded by taxpayer dollars, and are subject to a myriad of federal laws that require transparency and public accountability. As such, documents related to the implementation of this Executive Order should be public,” the members wrote.

“These reports contain information on how billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent on projects impacting the health and safety of their communities. How these taxpayer dollars are spent should be subject to taxpayer scrutiny,” the members continued. “By keeping these reports from the public, this administration is concealing its own response to the economic crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic. If the administration is confident that this Executive Order can legally and legitimately provide economic relief, it should disclose which projects and decisions it is advancing under the auspices of the Order.”

The Members asked CEQ to provide reports in five topic areas on the impacts of the Executive Order, and requested that CEQ respond to the letter as soon as possible, but no later than August 17, 2020. 

 

The letter can be viewed here and read below:

 

 

August 6, 2020

 

The Honorable Mary B. Neumayr

Chairman

The Council on Environmental Quality

730 Jackson Place, NW

Washington, DC 20503

 

RE: Status Update and Request for Relevant Records on Implementation of Executive Order 13927

 

Dear Ms. Neumayr:

 

On June 4, 2020, the President signed Executive Order 13927 on “Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investments and Other Activities.” The Executive Order calls for agencies to provide reports to the White House listing projects, activities, and decisions that they will attempt to move forward under expedited review.  Projects listed in these reports are federal, relate directly to federal agency actions and decisions that are funded by taxpayer dollars, and are subject to a myriad of federal laws that require transparency and public accountability. As such, documents related to the implementation of this Executive Order should be public.

 

However, on July 7, 2020, just three days after the deadline passed for the White House to receive the first reports from agencies in response to the Executive Order, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Chase Jennings told reporters that “These reports are not public.”[1] These reports contain information on how billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent on projects impacting the health and safety of their communities. How these taxpayer dollars are spent should be subject to taxpayer scrutiny. By keeping these reports from the public, this administration is concealing its own response to the economic crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic. If the administration is confident that this Executive Order can legally and legitimately provide economic relief, it should disclose which projects and decisions it is advancing under the auspices of the Order.

 

In order to guarantee oversight of the implementation of E.O. 13927 and to ensure the public availability of all associated reports, please provide the House Natural Resources Committee, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works with the following reports as soon as possible, but no later than August 17, 2020:

 

  1. All reports submitted by Federal agencies to the Council on Environment Quality (CEQ) identifying projects and actions that have been expedited pursuant to Executive Order No. 13927;

 

  1. Any report submitted to CEQ by the head of any federal agency in response to Executive Order No. 13972 identifying any planned or potential actions that: (A) may be subject to emergency treatment as alternative arrangements pursuant to CEQ’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations and an agencies’ own NEPA procedures; (B) may be subject to statutory exemptions of NEPA; (C) may be subject to the categorical exclusions that agencies have included in their NEPA procedures pursuant to the NEPA regulations; (D) may be covered by already completed NEPA analyses that obviate the need for new analyses; or (E) may otherwise use concise and focused NEPA environmental analyses;
  2. Any report submitted to CEQ by the head of any federal agency in response to Executive Order No. 13927 identifying planned or potential actions that may be subject to the Endangered Species Act regulation on consultations in emergencies, (50 C.F.R. 402.05);
  3. Any report submitted to CEQ by the head of any federal agency in response to Executive Order No. 13927 identifying planned or potential actions to facilitate the Nation’s economic recovery that may be subject to emergency treatment under the regulations and nationwide permits promulgated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or jointly by the Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and
  4. Any report submitted to CEQ by or on behalf of the head of any federal agency in response to Executive Order No. 13927 identifying planned or potential actions to facilitate the Nation’s economic recovery that may be subject to emergency or expedited treatment, including waivers, exemptions, or other streamlining, with regard to agency actions pertinent to infrastructure, energy, environmental, or natural resources matters.

As Executive Order No. 13927 also requires these agencies to provide updated reports at regular intervals, you must also set up a system for the continued release of documents and lists.

 

If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact Matthew Muirragui with the House Natural Resources Committee at (202) 225-6065, Navis Bermudez with the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at (202) 225-0060, or Andrew Wishnia with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at (202) 224-6176. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Peter A. DeFazio

Chair

U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

 

 

 

 

 

Raúl M. Grijalva

Chair

U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources

 

Thomas R. Carper

Ranking Member

U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Nydia M. Velázquez

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

Grace F. Napolitano

Member of Congress

 

 

Deb Haaland

Member of Congress

 

Chris Pappas

Member of Congress

 

A. Donald McEachin Member of Congress

 

 

 

Mark DeSaulnier Member of Congress

 

 

 

Debbie Dingell

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

Donald M. Payne, Jr.

Member of Congress

 

 

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Member of Congress

 

Alan Lowenthal

Member of Congress

 

 

 

Adriano Espaillat

Member of Congress

 

Anthony G. Brown

Member of Congress

Jared Huffman

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen F. Lynch

Member of Congress

 

Rick Larsen

Member of Congress

André Carson

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

Salud Carbajal

Member of Congress

 

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.

Member of Congress

Jesús G. “Chuy” García

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

Dina Titus

Member of Congress

 

Harley Rouda

Member of Congress

Steven Horsford

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

Paul D. Tonko

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

Darren Soto

Member of Congress

Diana DeGette

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Cohen

Member of Congress

 

Ruben Gallego

Member of Congress

 

Joe Neguse

Member of Congress

 

 

Wm. Lacy Clay

Member of Congress

 

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

Patrick Leahy

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

 

Tina Smith

United States Senator

 

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Margaret Wood Hassan

United States Senator

 

 

Chris Van Hollen

United States Senator

 

Ron Wyden

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

Tammy Duckworth

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

 

Edward J. Markey

United States Senator

 

Benjamin L. Cardin

United States Senator

Jeffrey A. Merkley

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

 

Mazie K. Hirono

United States Senator

 

Elizabeth Warren

United States Senator

Cory A. Booker

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

 

Sherrod Brown

United States Senator

 

Sheldon Whitehouse

United States Senator

Jack Reed

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Cortez Masto

United States Senator

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

Tom Udall

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

 

Kamala D. Harris

United States Senator

 

Michael F. Bennet

United States Senator

Amy Klobuchar

United States Senator

 

 

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator

 

Robert Menendez

United States Senator

 

 



[1] Bloomberg Law, “White House Mum on Land Projects Expedited for Virus,” Bobby Magill, July 7, 2020,

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/white-house-mum-on-land-projects-fast-tracked-for-virus-recovery.