Lead by California and Washington, the lawsuit seeks to block changes the administration has proposed to how the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is implemented. It was filed in federal court in San Francisco against the White House Council on Environmental Quality and its chairman, Mary Neumayr.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the finalized NEPA rule last month. It is intended to expedite permitting for projects like oil pipelines and road expansions, but critics say they would reduce public input, especially from low-income and minority communities.
After the explosion, the Obama administration tightened safety rules for offshore drilling operations. Amongst other measures, they required more tests on “blowout preventers” and other parts of the drilling apparatuses and required safety checks from independent investigators. The new rollbacks reduce or rescind these safety measures.
The rollbacks were welcomed by leaders in the oil and gas industry and criticized by many environmental groups.
The administration rewrote the EPA’s pollution-control policies—including on chemicals known to be serious health risks—particularly benefiting the chemicals industry, and repealed the Clean Water Rule in September 2019. A 2018 analysis reported that the Trump administration’s rollbacks and proposed reversals of environmental rules would likely “cost the lives of over 80,000 US residents per decade and lead to respiratory problems for many more than 1 million people.”