The Environment Hangs in the Balance on Election Day

Both the presidential election and numerous state and local ballot measures will determine the future of environmental policy in the United States.

2 minute read

November 3, 2020, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Maroon Creek, Aspen, Colorado

Mark Byzewski / Flickr

Four more years of the Trump administration or a win by former Vice President Jose Biden would have drastically different consequences for the nation's "bedrock environmental law," the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), according to an article by Jessica Kutz.

For insight into the environmental policy consequences of Trump's first four years in office, Kutz interviews Dinah Bear, an environmental lawyer and consultant based in Tucson, Arizona. Bear expresses concerns about the narrowed scope and application of NEPA as a result of changes made during the Trump administration

"The changes fundamentally mischaracterize the purpose of NEPA," says Bear. "The original regulations pointed out that the purpose of NEPA was essentially to try and implement the country’s environmental policies. Now, the new regulations say that agencies have satisfied NEPA if they’ve considered the relevant environmental information and the public has been informed regarding the decision."

A win by Biden would allow the new administration to restore and rejuvenate NEPA, according to the interview.

For a broader review of the many environmental laws that will be decided in local and state elections today, see also an article by Heater Hansman, which identifies ballot measures and other races "that will have wide-ranging impact on wildlife, water rights, renewable resources, and more."

Hansman previews elections to watch in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, and Washington—varying from ballot propositions to ballot questions to races for Congress, state legislatures, and governor's offices.

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