It’s been hard to focus this year; as we turn our attention in one direction, another crisis seems to be looming right outside of our range. As we continually encounter substantial situations and scenarios affecting our health and economy, the environment now faces detrimental exposure and impact from a new forthcoming threat: rollbacks to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
For more than 50 years, NEPA has been the blueprint for how we should consider and coexist with the environment. It requires federal agencies preparing and receiving proposals for new developments, roads, industrial infrastructure and other projects to practice due diligence and conduct rigorous science-based assessments to see how these actions may negatively impact habitats, wildlife and the communities on the front lines. Without strong NEPA regulations, pollution could become a larger problem, climate change impacts could significantly increase and critical biodiverse habitats could be disrupted and lose the ability to recover.
Essentially, NEPA serves as a crucial system of checks and balances to protect what we love – and who we love. We know there is an intrinsic link between environmental justice and social justice, and these rollbacks only put marginalized communities at greater risk. Oftentimes, projects are proposed and built disproportionally in areas in close proximity to these communities. Without the expectation and enforcement of strong regulations, they face immeasurable impacts both in present times and for future generations.
So, what can you do? Continue to protect what you love. Protect your health, your neighbors, your community, your environment and all those who call it home. Stay informed, register to vote and spend time researching what matters most to you. There is no doubt we are all deeply connected to each other; it is our role to ensure it stays that way and equitable access remains the goal for all.