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Trump Allows Bypasses for Environmental Checks on Federal Land – Better for Renewable Energy?

Trump Allows Bypasses for Environmental Checks on Federal Land – Better for Renewable Energy?

Environmentalists are up in arms about Trump’s executive order that allows federal agencies to bypass a law requiring environmental checks before starting a new project.

“It requires federal agencies – before they take actions that can significantly affect the environment – to understand what those effects will be, and to publicize those effects so that the public understands them.”

Unfortunately, these environmental checks can cost millions of dollars and take up to four years, suspending key projects including solar and wind energy and blocking the creation of new jobs – something America needs now more than ever before.

“Agencies, including executive departments, should take all appropriate steps to use their lawful emergency authorities and other authorities to respond to the national emergency and to facilitate the nation’s economic recovery,” reads the order.

Federal agencies have until July 4th to submit a list of projects to be fast-tracked for approval. We can expect the list to include construction project permits for highways, mines, pipelines, and other projects – perhaps even the Dakota Access Pipeline whose construction was blocked by arguments from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe even after years of environmental studies confirmed the project was safe. 

“Unnecessary delays in timely agency actions will deny our citizens opportunities for jobs and economic security and will hinder our economic recovery from the national emergency, keeping millions of Americans out of work,” notes the order.

“Time is money, so eliminating delays that hold up or kill projects will have the same impact as increasing funding, and it will let workers get back on the job improving our infrastructure,” adds Rep. Sam Graves (R-MI).

Separately, the EPA has proposed a new system for evaluating rules on air pollutants. The proposal, backed by several industries, would “provide consistency and greater transparency” when considering air pollution rules in the future, explains Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of the American Petroleum Institute trade group.

Author’s Note: At a time when millions of Americans are out of work due to COVID-19, I think Trump can be forgiven for prioritizing Americans’ ability to earn a living over environmental regulations that delay projects. 

Editor’s Note: Several of our colleagues are involved in attempting to build solar energy on federal land. Just to get started its a $5 million fee to do the environmental study, and can delay a project for 5 years. You want solar energy? You have to protect the turtles first.

Republicans, in general, don’t mind renewable energy. Republicans just don’t want to subsidize pet projects (like Solyndra) that cannot support themselves and have no chance of propagating. And regulations that have to mollify a dozen different environmental groups tend to make EVERY project

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