NEW YORK (WTEN) — New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday that the state would join a coalition of 23 attorneys general and jurisdictions suing the Trump administration over a rule covering environmental review.
The 1969 National Environmental Policy Act requires agencies to consider environmental impacts of proposed actions—along with alternatives and mitigation—before any “major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” According to the Office of the Attorney General, the lawsuit challenges an “unlawful final rule” that cuts the NEPA mandate for agencies to examine ecological impacts.
The Council on Environmental Quality announced the final rule in June, upending requirements. The change seems to clear the way for federal agencies to overburden underserved communities by ignoring climate change, water and air pollution, and concerns about wildlife habitat.
Attorney General James says the lawsuit argues that the final rule violates both the Administrative Procedure Act and the NEPA. She characterizes the final rule as an “attempt to undermine the National Environmental Policy Act is yet another example of its unapologetic, relentless dismantling of our nation’s environmental protections.” She says that inconsistent requirements for which projects must undergo a review “puts both our communities and our environment in harm’s way.”
Decisions on managing federal public lands and energy and infrastructure projects require NEPA compliance. The coalition’s suit argues that the final rule:
- Contradicts NEPA’s language and purpose
- Exceeds the Council on Environmental Quality’s statutory authority
- Was enacted without any environmental assessment or impact statement
- Is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law
The final rule also allegedly limits public participation in the review process, so feedback from the vulnerable who have been affected are less likely to be heard. The negative effects—like health impacts and costs for remediation—of environmental damage are disproportionately borne by low-income communities.
The lawsuit is brought by attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, and Guam. New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, New York City, Harris County in Texas, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection are also plaintiffs.
Take a look at the filing below: