The Trump Card: Tarnishing Planning, Democracy, and the Environment

April 2020
ELR 10281
Robert L. Glicksman and Alejandro E. Camacho

One of the most important and transformative mechanisms the U.S. Congress has ever created to protect the environment is under assault from the Donald Trump Administration. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) ushered in the modern era of U.S. environmental law. In early 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued proposed regulations that would overhaul, and fundamentally enfeeble, NEPA and its existing regulations. This Comment provides a brief introduction to NEPA’s purposes, structure, and mechanisms; addresses the narrowed scope of agency obligations that would result from the proposal; and describes how CEQ’s proposal would thwart public participation in the NEPA process, thereby impairing NEPA’s most fundamental goal: fostering deliberation and democratic participation to improve the government’s capacity to promote social welfare.

Robert L. Glicksman is the J.B. & Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law at George Washington University Law School and a member scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform. Alejandro E. Camacho is a Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine, Faculty Director of the Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources, and a member scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform.

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