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Biden to again require agencies to consider projects' climate impacts, reversing Trump

The Biden administration will announce Tuesday that it is reinstating key pieces of a "landmark" environmental law requiring federal agencies to consider climate implications and speak with local communities before breaking ground on highways, pipelines, and other such projects, The New York Times and The Washington Post report. 

In 2020, former President Donald Trump rolled back parts of 1970's National Environmental Policy Act's implementation to cut down on what he called "mountains and mountains of bureaucratic red tape." Under his changes, many projects were exempted from review and agencies skipped over considering so-called "indirect" climate impacts, the Post notes.

Per President Biden's changes, regulators must now consider how government actions contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as how they burden communities — particularly poor and minority ones "that have already faced disproportionate amounts of pollution," the Post writes. 

"Patching these holes in the environmental review process will help projects get built faster, be more resilient, and provide greater benefits to people who live nearby," Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement, per the Times. Critics of the law, however, are likely to argue it will conversely slow production and raise costs.

The decision arrives ahead of Earth Day on Friday, and as Biden's climate agenda continues its congressional struggle. High gas prices and the resulting push to boost oil production have also thrown a wrench in the president's environmental plans.

Officials have flagged that the updated rule will not have a large immediate impact considering the administration has already been considering the climate implications of its proposed projects. But it will "force future administrations to abide by the process or undertake a lengthy regulatory process and possibly legal challenges to again undo it," the Times writes.