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Letter | June 21, 2022

Coalition Urges the EPA to Rein in Rogue Federal Agencies via NEPA

ClimateIndependent Agencies
Coalition Urges the EPA to Rein in Rogue Federal Agencies via NEPA

June 17, 2022

To Administrator Regan

We, the undersigned organizations, urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revive the use of its authority to refer environmentally destructive federal projects to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and specifically call on the EPA to refer recent decisions made by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the United States Postal Service. 

Due to powers granted by the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA plays a vital role in government agencies’ compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). The landmark NEPA legislation mandated in 1970 that all federal agencies consider the climate and environmental impact of their projects and policies. Agencies are required to write environmental impact statements outlining the environmental and climate ramifications of major federal projects. 

If the EPA recognizes an agency’s plans as negligent to the climate, it is within the Administrator’s power to refer any environmentally unsound legislation, project, or plan to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for further arbitration. Indeed, this power has been used before to further consider environmentally destructive projects such as mining leases in Osceola National Forest, oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Alaska, and the construction of multiple highways through wetlands.

Revitalizing use of this procedure is especially important now, as the crisis of climate change barrels forward and executive branch leaders, many of whom were appointed by prior administrations, continue to pursue negligent and environmentally harmful policies. We urge you to take seriously the agency’s power through NEPA procedures to promote environmentally sound decisions and oversee federal compliance with President Biden’s climate goals across the whole government. We commend the EPA for its diligence in reviewing agencies’ hundreds of environmental impact statements, but it is incumbent on the EPA to strictly enforce the federal government’s compliance with environmental standards.

We have identified two instances in which the EPA’s timely referral power could have significant environmental impact. The Tennessee Valley Authority has contradicted President Biden’s stated goal of achieving a 100 percent renewable power grid by 2035 and the United States Postal Service is sabotaging the president’s order to achieve a 100 percent electric federal vehicle fleet by 2035. In the case of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the utility’s recent decision to replace two aging coal plants with fossil gas plants, before even completing an environmental review, is not in line with the president’s agenda. Rather than pursuing a clean energy grid, the decision locks in planet-warming gas energy for the foreseeable future. As for the United States Postal Service, the agency is buying a new gas-guzzling fleet that is barely more fuel-efficient than its decades-old retiring trucks. Both of these decisions are not only environmentally disastrous, but costly and inefficient. 

Referrals from EPA to the CEQ are an effective way to pressure government agencies to adopt policy in line with the White House’s environmental goals, but this administration’s EPA has neglected its responsibility to do everything in its power to positively influence federal climate policy at this crucial juncture, when the time to prevent a climate catastrophe is so perilously short. We commend the Interior Department for its last referral in 2016 of the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to construct a levee in Missouri, which would have obstructed  the vital New Madrid Floodway. But since then, the EPA has missed many opportunities to use referral power for environmental good. Now, more than ever, the EPA must be a strong-willed advocate for President Biden’s clean energy goals to mitigate climate change. 

The EPA must rise to the occasion and spearhead more environmentally sustainable climate decisions across all of the federal government. The EPA is responsible for reviewing the environmental impact of decisions across the federal government, including Department of Interior coal mining permits and FERC interstate pipelines. It is well within the purview of the EPA to demand that all government agencies make more sustainable decisions through NEPA procedures. Through your review of environmental impact statements, the EPA can strictly call on agencies to comply with environmental standards. The climate and ecological crisis we face today requires a powerful EPA leading the charge to meet our national climate goals. We strongly urge the EPA to use its existing authority to pressure government agencies to move towards greener decisions that will secure our climate’s future.


AFGE Local 704

Animals Are Sentient Beings Inc

Between the Waters

Boston Catholic Climate Movement

Businesses for a Livable Climate

Call to Action Colorado

CatholicNetwork US

CDP – Energy and Environmental Initiative

Center for Biological Diversity

Chapel Hill Organization for Clean Energy

Chapman Forest Foundation

Citizens Alliance for a Sustainable Englewood

Clean Energy Action

Climate Crisis Policy

CO Businesses for a Livable Climate

Coalition for Human Needs

CODEPINK San Francisco Bay Area

Communities and Postal Workers United

Community for Sustainable Energy

Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania

Earth Action, Inc

Earth Ethics, Inc.

Eco-Logic of WBAI-FM, NYC

Elders Climate Action

Empower Our Future

Environmental Justice Ministry Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church

Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area

Feminists in Action Los Angeles

Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice

FracTracker Alliance

Friends of the Earth

Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance


Hands Across the Sand / Land

Honor the Earth

Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s Climate ActionCampaign

I-70 Citizens Advisory Group

Indivisible Ambassadors

International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute

Kickapoo Peace Circle

Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety and Environment

Long Beach Alliance for Clean Energy

Mayfair Park Neighborhood Association Board

Mental Health & Inclusion Ministries

Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Montbello Neighborhood Improvement Association

Natural Capitalism Solutions

New Mexico Climate Justice

Nicaragua Center for COMMUNITY ACTION

North American Climate, Conservation and Environment(NACCE)

North Country Earth Action

North Range Concerned Citizens

Occupy Bergen County (New Jersey)

Oceanic Preservation Society

Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

Protect All Children’s Environment

Putnam Progressives

RapidShift Network

Resource Renewal Institute

Revolving Door Project 

Santa Barbara Standing Rock Coalition

Save EPA

Save the Berkeley Post Office

Save the Pine Bush

Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, New York

Small Business Alliance

Southwest Organization for Sustainability

Sovereign Inupiat For A Living Arctic

Sowing Justice

Spirit of the Sun, Inc.


Sunflower Alliance

Sunrise Movement

System Change Not Climate Change

Terra Advocati

Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

The Earth Bill Network

The Green House Connection Center

The People’s Justice Council

Thrive at Life: Working Solutions

True North Research

Turtle Island Restoration Network

Unite North Metro Denver

Venice Resistance

Vote Climate

Wall of Women

Waterway Advocates

Western Slope Businesses for a Livable Climate

Wilwerding Consulting

Womxn from the Mountain

Working for Racial Equity

1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations

350 Bay Area Action

350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley

350 Hawaii

350 Merced

350 Seattle



Chris Carlson

Karen Bueno

Lenore N. Dowling

Meryl Greer Domina

Sally Nelson 

ClimateIndependent Agencies

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