Maui News

Hirono Opposes Changes to Environmental Rules

January 29, 2020, 3:24 PM HST
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US Sen. Mazie Hirono. Courtesy photo.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono and more than 150 Congressional Democrats called on the Trump Administration to extend the deadline for public comment on a proposed “weakening” of environmental regulations.

The lawmakers wrote a letter urging the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to extend the comment period on proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Over the last five decades, NEPA has set rules for environmental impact assessments conducted by federal government agencies regarding actions that the federal government proposes to fund, execute, or permit. This process ensures that potential negative consequences to the environment due to proposed federal activities are considered, and that input from the affected communities are considered before final approval.

The Trump Administration proposes significant changes like removing the requirement that cumulative impacts be assessed, which removes the consideration of climate change impacts.

According to a press release from Hirono’s office, the proposed rule makes a series of other changes that would “significantly harm the environment and open the door to corporate influence.”

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These changes, if finalized, will result in one of the biggest overhauls of NEPA in its history.

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“We urge you to extend the comment period to a duration commensurate with the scope and gravity of changes that CEQ proposes. Given that this is an unprecedented rewrite of the existing regulations and will impact proposed federal agency decisions for years to come, any public comment period less than six months would be unreasonable. The sweep of changes proposed in this rulemaking necessitates a long conversation about the proposed rule and the best way forward, if there is any, given the weaknesses in the rulemaking process and policy considered to date,” the lawmakers wrote.

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