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Restored NEPA Centers Climate Change and Environmental Justice

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Today the Biden administration finalized a rule implementing changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the bedrock law that guides how federal agencies assess the potential environmental impacts of proposed actions and engage with communities. The final rule has restored key elements of NEPA that were weakened under the Trump administration while also strengthening requirements governing community participation and assessing climate change and environmental justice impacts in federal agency decision-making.  

“We are thrilled to see NEPA strengthened and restored. This new rule is a significant win in protecting communities from environmental harm, and ecosystems that birds and other wildlife depend on for their survival,” said Sam Wojcicki, Senior Director of Climate Policy at the National Audubon Society. “A strong NEPA means better public health and environmental outcomes and fewer delays for responsibly-sited clean energy infrastructure needed to combat the climate crisis. The new climate and environmental justice provisions will result in more robust, more resilient projects, while ensuring that the voices of impacted communities are heard. Meaningful community engagement is critical for an equitable, sustainable, and lasting clean energy transition.”

In 2020, the National Audubon Society joined a lawsuit to challenge the Trump administration’s rollback of critical protections under NEPA. That case was placed on hold while the Biden administration finalized this new rule. See statements from Audubon, NRDC, and partners in the NEPA lawsuit here.

Improved NEPA analysis will help the U.S. accelerate clean energy deployment with fewer conflicts and more resilient projects by requiring project leaders to engage communities from the start and evaluate all potential impacts. Audubon’s report, Birds and Transmission: Building the Grid Birds Need, outlines the urgent need for additional transmission capacity and shares solutions for minimizing risks to birds.

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About Audubon   The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas towards a future where birds thrive because Audubon is a powerful, diverse, and ever-growing force for conservation. Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the hemisphere and more than 1.5 million active supporters. North America has lost three billion birds since 1970, and more than 500 bird species are at risk of extinction across Latin America and the Caribbean. Birds act as early warning systems about the health of our environment, and they tell us that birds – and our planet – are in crisis. Together as one Audubon, we are working to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss. We do this by implementing on-the-ground conservation, partnering with local communities, influencing public and corporate policy, and building community. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

Media Contact: Megan Moriarty, [email protected]  

 

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