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US President’s Latest Environmental Rollback Threatens Minorities: Experts

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

Last month, President Donald Trump had diligently weakened the US environment protections even amid a global pandemic. Experts warn that this will have a fatal effect on the minorities. 

According to The Hill, the order relies on authorities to sidestep a suite of environmental laws, allowing for the fast-tracking of major construction projects in a bid to boost the economy. 

This would lead to immediate approval of highways, pipelines, oil and gas projects and other polluting industries. 

The order also shreds regulations in a number of milestone environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which imposes strict environmental review before building new infrastructures like highways or pipelines. 

NEPA usually requires community feedback which is a process that would be banned under emergency authorities that are typically used to respond to natural disasters like floods.  

According to The Hill report, NEPA provides an opportunity for affected citizens to object before the federal government authorizes a project that may have a negative impact on the minorities.  

Communities are already fighting a number of major projects they don't want in their neighbourhood. 

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota have been combatting the Dakota Access Pipeline over fears it may degrade their drinking water. In Uniontown, residents are fighting against toxic leach from a landfill drenched with coal ash alongside two different factories leaking a noxious odour. 

Critics of Trump's order have argued environmental regulations don't inhibit economic growth and that the Trump administration's efforts have come too late in the pandemic to provide a real boost to an economy with a 13.3 per cent unemployment rate. They also believe the executive order is likely illegal. 

The order relies on similar legal authority Trump used to pursue constriction of the border wall with Mexico, but Hayes said this order lacks the connection to anti-terrorism laws that have been used to help defend the border wall. 

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