Bloomberg Law
March 9, 2020, 1:03 PM

Democratic Senators Offer Last-Minute Pushback to Permitting Rule

Stephen Lee
Stephen Lee

Five Democratic senators asked the White House on Monday to rethink its plan to reform the way environmental permitting is conducted across the nation, one day before the Council on Environmental Quality is set to close its comment period on its proposed rule.

But the lawmakers’ last-minute demand of CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr isn’t expected to sway the agency’s rulemaking process. The council said March 4 that it wouldn’t extend the comment period or arrange further public meetings for its pending rewrite of the regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act.

  • In their letter, Democratic Sens. Tom Carper (Del.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Bob Casey (Pa.), and Kamala Harris (Calif.) wrote that a provision that snips out the requirement to consider a project’s cumulative impacts on the environment could have a “disastrous effect” on frontline communities that “have already had higher exposure to land, air, and water pollution.”
  • Lawmakers also said that letting companies conduct their own environmental impact statements is “akin to offering a self-graded take-home exam.”
  • Neumayr has said the proposal wouldn’t exclude consideration of greenhouse gases. CEQ also says it has engaged in extensive public outreach on its proposal, which aims to speed up environmental permitting for major projects like highways and pipelines.
  • Note: Industry lawyer says ‘Run Like Heck’ From Relying on NEPA Update.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Lee in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at; Anna Yukhananov at