President Trump announced plans Thursday to change National Environmental Policy Act rules in order to make it easier to build gas pipelines and construct mines and highways.
As written now, the regulations require federal agencies to determine the environmental impact of such projects, including effects on the climate. "These endless delays waste money, keep projects from breaking ground, and deny jobs to our nation's incredible workers," Trump said. "From day one, my administration has made fixing this regulatory nightmare a top priority."
Trump has long been a climate change denier, calling global warming "a hoax" created "by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." When asked by reporters on Thursday if he still believes climate change isn't real, Trump said, "No, no. Not all all. Nothing's a hoax. ... It's a very serious subject. The environment is very important to me. I'm a big believer in that word, the environment. ... I want clean air, I want clean water. I also want jobs, though."
Environmental activists have already decried Trump's proposal to change the National Environmental Policy Act, which has been used to delay and block the construction of projects like the Keystone XL pipeline. Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement Trump is giving the fossil fuel industry "a gift," and "forcing federal agencies to ignore environmental threats is a disgraceful abdication of our responsibility to protect the planet for future generations."
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