President Trump is rolling back a foundational Nixon-era environmental law that he says stifles infrastructure projects, but that is credited with ensuring decades of scrutiny of major projects and giving local communities a say, the AP reports. Trump was in Atlanta to announce changes Wednesday to the National Environmental Policy Act's regulations for how and when authorities must conduct environmental reviews, making it easier to build highways, pipelines, chemical plants, and other projects. The 1970 law changed environmental oversight in the United States by requiring federal agencies to consider whether a project would harm the air, land, water, or wildlife, and giving the public the right of review and input.
"All of that ends today," Trump said, per the New York Times
. "We're doing something dramatic." The White House said the final rule will promote the rebuilding of America. Critics call the president's efforts a cynical attempt to limit the public’s ability to examine and influence proposed projects under one of the country’s bedrock environmental protection laws. "This may be the single biggest giveaway to polluters in the past 40 years," said Brett Hartl, who leads an environmental group. Among the major changes in Trump's regulatory reinterpretation: limiting when federal environmental reviews of projects are mandated, and capping how long federal agencies and the public have to evaluate and comment on any environmental impact of a project.
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