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Climbers and Backcountry Skiers are Taking the Trump Administration to Court to Defend NEPA

August 24, 2020

Boise, ID and Golden, CO (For Immediate Release) Winter Wildlands Alliance and the American Alpine Club joined forces with 20 other conservation and environmental justice organizations to sue the Trump Administration and stop it’s evisceration of the National Environmental Policy Act.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) ensures federal decision making is transparent, scientifically informed and that the public has an opportunity to share their expertise and concerns. It’s a bedrock environmental law that requires Federal agencies to engage in a project review process to identify the environmental, cultural, economic, and health impacts of a project, as well as offering alternatives to the plan before a decision is made.

“Mountain regions are warming at roughly twice the pace of the global average, and climbers and skiers see these changes every time we go into the mountains. Now, the Trump Administration has decided federal agencies can’t even consider how their decisions will affect the climate. We’re suing the Administration to force the government to consider climate impacts before approving development projects.” says Taylor Luneau, policy manager at the American Alpine Club.

For the past 50 years, NEPA has put the environment on even footing with commercial interests in government decision-making and moved us towards a healthier planet. From public lands to public health, NEPA has made this country a better place. But, on July 15, 2020, President Trump announced major policy changes gutting the National Environmental Policy Act.

“The National Environmental Policy Act gives every American a voice in how public lands are managed. If you’ve ever sent a letter to the Forest Service, Park Service, or Bureau of Land Management, weighing in on a project, you were able to do that because of NEPA” says Hilary Eisen, policy director at Winter Wildlands Alliance. “These policy changes dramatically re-interpret the law to sideline the public and prioritize corporate interests over environmental protection” Eisen added.

These policy changes mark a significant departure from how the government has previously interpreted NEPA. Rather than prioritizing transparency, science-based decision making, and environmental protection, the regulations announced by President Trump on July 15 limit public participation, restrict the scope of environmental analyses, and are wholly intended to fast-track approval for development and infrastructure projects. These policy changes raise major concerns not only for the protection of public lands and outdoor recreation, but for the health and well-being of communities across the country who rely on clean air, water and a healthy climate.

About Winter Wildlands Alliance
Winter Wildlands Alliance is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving wildlands and quality human-powered snowsports experiences on public lands through education, stewardship, outreach and advocacy. We are an alliance of over 100 grassroots environmental organizations and backcountry partners. Our SnowSchool program engages over 33,000 kids in science-based field trips and education across 60 sites nationwide. Our Backcountry Film Festival, premiering every November in Boise, Idaho, tours over 100 locations worldwide and raises over $180,000 for local mountain communities.2020 marks our 20th anniversary, and over this time WWA has built credibility within the conservation and recreation communities and among land managers and decision makers at the local, regional and national levels earning WWA the reputation as the voice of quiet winter recreation and conservation. As a founding member of the Outdoor Alliance, a coalition of national human-­powered recreation organizations, WWA is recognized among decision makers from state houses to Washington, DC as a leading voice speaking out for conservation and stewardship of our public lands.About Winter Wildlands Alliance