(RightWing.org) – In the 1990s, America began losing manufacturing jobs at an accelerated rate. In 2010, President Barack Obama tried to persuade Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Jobs told the president it would never happen because the United States has too many regulations and unnecessary costs.
In 2020, former President Donald Trump ended some federal regulations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which required the federal government to consider environmental impacts on its decision-making. Trump believed the regulations unnecessarily stymied jobs, manufacturing, and infrastructure building. On Tuesday, April 19, the Biden administration restored three elements that Trump ended.
Biden Restores Environmental Protections
On Tuesday, the White House announced it was re-implementing three provisions that the Trump administration revoked in the NEPA. The 1969 law is a foundational piece of legislation that forces the government to disclose any potential impacts on the environment when it builds infrastructure of any kind. The Obama administration used the law to justify its climate change agenda. The regulations under NEPA included the government’s consideration of potential greenhouse emissions from federal projects and how to reduce carbon pollution.
While the Trump administration moved swiftly to increase oil drilling to make America energy independent, the administration said NEPA was the strongest roadblock to achieving its goal. US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt told the House Committee on Natural Resources that NEPA continually slowed down the process.
Trump’s rules also made it more challenging for environmentalists to challenge government infrastructure projects. Environmentalist groups often can’t stop the projects, but they could previously slow them down through the public commenting provisions before Trump’s changes to the regulations.
Now, the Biden administration is moving to reverse Trump’s decision with these three rules:
- It restores the requirements that all federal agencies must evaluate all relevant environmental impacts, including pollution.
- Restore full authority to agencies to coordinate with communities to create alternative approaches to minimize environmental and public health costs based on various factors.
- Establish that NEPA is the floor instead of the ceiling — meaning federal agencies can add regulations ad nausea if they see fit.
The administration argued that the changes would create regulatory certainty and ensure that projects were completed correctly the first time. Additionally, the administration says it will help projects get built faster and provide more benefits to those who live nearby.
Businesses and GOP Criticize the New Regulations
Businesses and Republicans were quick to criticize the new rules. They say the regulations won’t speed things up or make the process better. Instead, they say the rules will do what they did before Trump: slow down manufacturing and infrastructure processes by creating unnecessary delays.
The top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), said the government would weaponize NEPA through unnecessary bureaucratic red tape when America needs to focus on lowering gas prices, slowing down inflation, and resolving the supply chain crisis. The Arkansas Republican added that the end result would be activist litigation and endless red tape.
So, instead of unleashing innovation and the economy, another Democratic administration may put the kibosh on manufacturing and infrastructure proposals.
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