Strong NEPA environmental reviews are critical to protect our ocean



For 50 years, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has helped prevent damage to the environment and protect the health and welfare of people. NEPA was passed by Congress a year after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which had disastrous consequences for marine life. Since then, NEPA has been a powerful tool in ensuring that actions taken by federal agencies—including licensing and permitting projects—are closely reviewed and regulated based on sound science so as to not cause severe harm to the environment.

In January, the Trump Administration proposed a broad weakening of the NEPA regulations. The changes would rush the environmental review process, create shortcuts that increase the risk of environmental harm, and curtail the public-input process—a critical civic engagement tool that protects vulnerable communities. We hope you will join us in sending a letter opposing these rollbacks.




The proposed revisions to NEPA would:

  • Enable more projects to skip environmental review—and therefore public comment—altogether.
  • Let federal agencies omit any analysis of the climate change impacts of reviewed projects.
  • Reduce the time that the public has to examine, understand, and comment on the proposed project.

The rollback of environmental reviews would be disastrous for the marine wildlife and ecosystems that we all care about. If the proposed revisions to NEPA are approved, we will likely see more projects that increase the risk of oil spills, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and damage wildlife habitat.




Our fisheries, waterways, forests and coral reefs all benefit from the defensive power of NEPA. In a time when there are efforts to increase offshore drilling activities in federal waters, we need full environmental review more than ever.

As scientists from around the world have noted, the most important thing we can do for the ocean right now is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Action on climate change is critical, and the proposed revisions to NEPA take us in the wrong direction.




The Seattle Aquarium strongly opposes the proposed revisions to NEPA. Weakening of NEPA threatens the hard work carried out here in the Pacific Northwest and around the country to protect and honor community and culture, the ocean and each other. The health of our ocean, communities and future generations depend on NEPA reviews conducted with scientific rigor and inclusivity. We hope you will join our letter to the Council on Environmental Quality, opposing the rollbacks.

We also thank Washington State Representatives DelBene, Heck, Jayapal, Kilmer, Larsen and Smith for expressing opposition to the Administration’s NEPA rollback, joining 135 other members of Congress in sending a strong letter to CEQ.




  1. Sign on to our letter! Fill in the form below by March 9, 2020, and we will add your name to the public record in opposition to the NEPA rollbacks. Your signature carries additional weight if you add a personal note about why you care!
  2. You can also submit your own comment directly to the Council on Environmental Quality, urging them to rescind the proposed changes and keep NEPA strong. Be sure to reference docket number CEQ-2019-0003 and let them know why you personally care and think strong environmental review is important.

All comments become part of the public record and information provided in the form will not be used or shared for any other purpose.

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