Tell Our Federal Agencies to Protect Natural Resources!

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2.18% Complete

Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Risk mitigation should be an innate part of environmental decision-making. Demand the president restore this responsibility!


In 2015, our environment was given some well-needed protections under the "Presidential Memorandum: Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment1."

The executive order made it the policy of the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; to avoid and then minimize harmful effects to land, water, wildlife, and other ecological resources caused by land- or water-disturbing activities, and to ensure that any remaining harmful effects are effectively addressed, consistent with existing mission and legal authorities1.

Among other things, the memorandum established a mitigation hierarchy (avoid, minimize, then compensate); set a "net benefit goal" or, at a minimum, a no net loss goal for natural resources; emphasized large-scale or landscape-level planning and mitigation; and directed a number of agencies to take certain, specified actions to strengthen mitigation policies2.

In short, it guided new development toward outcomes resulting in fewer natural resource impacts.

President Trump repealed President Obama's Memorandum in 2017 and issued his own order, directing a review of all actions taken pursuant to that order and the revoked Presidential Memorandum for possible reconsideration, including mitigation policies for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Endangered Species Act3.

Trump's order focused on encouraging domestic energy production by "unraveling the red tape" and initiating rollbacks on more than 30 Obama-era environmental documents and regulations, including the Clean Power Plan4.

But Trump's action ignored the EPA's 2009 finding that greenhouse gas emissions cause air pollution which endangers public health and welfare. This finding serves as the necessary factual and legal predicate authorizing EPA to adopt greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act3.

It is well within the executive power to depart from prior administrations' policy preferences. But in implementing those policy changes, agencies must provide reasonable explanations for the changes that are consistent with their "enabling statutes" and missions5.

Climate change is backed by an overwhelming scientific consensus. Federal agencies should be doing everything they can to mitigate the effects of climate change, not ignore it, putting the environment, our plants and animals, and millions of Americans at risk.

Sign the petition below and demand the President restore the Presidential Memorandum: Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment.

More on this issue:

  1. President Barack Obama, Office of the Press Secretary (3 November 2015), "Presidential Memorandum: Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment."
  2. Shannon Varner, Patrick Fanning, Environmental Law & Policy Monitor (30 March 2017), "Trump and Zinke Orders Set Stage for Review of Federal Mitigation Policy."
  3. VanNess Feldman LLP (30 March 2017), "Trump Order Sets Up Rollback of Obama Energy and Climate Action."
  4. Dimitrios Karakitsos, Isabel Lane, Beth Viola, Holland & Knight, LLP (14 April 2017), "A Closer Look at President Trump's Executive Order on Energy Independence."
  5. Emily Hammond, Vox (29 March 2017), "President Trump's executive order on "energy independence," annotated by an environmental law expert."
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The Petition:

To the President of the United States,

I applaud what your administration is doing to combat climate change, holding true the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is currently the biggest threat to the future of humanity.

It stands, therefore, that federal agencies should be doing everything they can to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In 2015, our environment was given some well-needed protections under the "Presidential Memorandum: Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment."

The memorandum directed federal agencies to avoid and then minimize harmful effects to land, water, wildlife, and other ecological resources caused by land- or water-disturbing activities, and to ensure that any remaining harmful effects are effectively addressed, consistent with existing mission and legal authorities. It guided new development toward outcomes resulting in fewer natural resource impacts until it was repealed in 2017.

The removal of this executive order runs contrary to the EPA's 2009 finding that greenhouse gas emissions cause air pollution which endangers public health and welfare. This finding must serve as the factual and legal predicate authorizing EPA to adopt greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act.

Removing the 2015 executive order has put the environment, our plants and animals, and millions of Americans at risk. We deserve a safer future, and demand you restore the policies listed in "Presidential Memorandum: Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment" of 2015.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: