The Biden administration is restoring stricter environmental standards for approving new pipelines, highways, power plants and other construction projects, including requiring consideration of how such projects might affect climate change.
The changes announced Tuesday reinstate National Environmental Policy Act measures that had been removed by former President Donald Trump, who said that federal regulations were needlessly hindering much-needed infrastructure projects.
Under the stricter reviews, federal agencies must take into account the cumulative impacts that a project or a new proposed federal regulation would have in areas such as air and water quality, wildlife habitat and climate change, according to a White House statement. The new guidelines widen the scope of environmental reviews beyond direct and indirect effects.
The Trump administration had deleted from the regulations the definition of cumulative effects, which called on regulators to take into account long-term impacts such as frequent exposure to toxic air. Environmental groups said that absence of that definition confused regulators on whether to analyze those effects.
No change was made to rules that require full environmental-impact statements to be completed within two years and less comprehensive reviews to be finished within one year.
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