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The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting the first of only two public hearings on the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back what is widely considered to be a fundamental part of the country’s environmental law which requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. NEPA allows communities to have their voices heard in many large scale construction projects.
On Tuesday morning people gathered at the Alliance Center in Denver’s LoDo, just blocks from the EPA hearing, to demand that NEPA protections remain in place.
Councilmember Tyrone Ortiz from the San Felipe Pueblo in New Mexico was one of the indigenous speakers to speak about the disproportionate impact on indigenous communities of rolling back NEPA.
“In the 1970s Congress and the President realized that we must have basic protection for the environment. Currently, (the) Administration is attacking all of our environmental protection to benefit industries and money. One of the most important reason new plan exists is to give the public time to consider and comment.”
Alma Sanchez, the Conservation Coordinator for the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains program of Defenders of Wildlife echoed those sentiments inside the official EPA hearing.
“While I am only 28, I am wise enough to understand and old enough to have witnessed that it is communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities that disproportionately are the victims of environmental contamination and pollution. Highways, refineries, power plants, and toxic waste are more likely to end up in my community. Our children are more likely to have asthma.”
The EPA hearing continues Tuesday afternoon. At 4pm the Alliance Center in Denver will host a panel discussion about NEPA where frontline communities will share their stories.
Listen to an interview with Sam Gilchrist, Western Campaigns Director with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):