NEPA Lawsuit Argues that Immigrants to the US Increase Climate Change

This lawsuit by an anti-immigration group alleges that since Americans have among the highest carbon footprints, allowing immigrants into the US will increase GHG emissions and climate change. This means that immigration has environmental impacts and thus immigration policy changes require an Environmental Impact Statement under NEPA.

Scientists And Environmentalists For Population Stabilization v DHS

From the complaint:

1. This case addresses a class of discretionary actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson (together, DHS and DHS Secretary are referred to as “DHS”). These myriad actions concern the entry and settlement of multitudinous foreign nationals into the United States. Thirty-three of these actions are itemized and summarized in ¶ 53 and attached hereto in Ex. 1. Like its predecessor agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”), DHS has turned a blind eye regarding the environmental impacts, including the cumulative impacts, of its actions concerning foreign nationals who enter and settle into the United States pursuant to the agency’s discretionary actions. The resulting environmental impacts from these actions are significant and an analysis of these impacts by DHS is required pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), see 42 U.S.C. § 4331 et seq. (2016), and its implementing regulations. But DHS, like INS before Case 3:16-cv-02583-L-BLM Document 1 Filed 10/17/16 Page 2 of 85 it, undertakes no such NEPA review. Accordingly, DHS is acting in contravention of its legal obligations.

2. The core purpose of NEPA is to ensure that, before a federal agency undertakes a federal action, its decision makers consider the range of potential environmental impacts the action may have on the environment. NEPA embodies the nation’s policy of ensuring that decisions affecting the human environment are made with eyes wide open and in full view of the public so that all stakeholders may understand the implications of federal actions on the natural resources that we all depend on, in one way or another. NEPA “help[s] public officials make decisions that are based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment.” 40 C.F.R. § 1500.1 (2016) (Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) regulations). DHS is woefully deficient in carrying forth this mandate.

3. After DHS was established in 2003, it adopted its own NEPA procedures, which were finalized in 2014. But these new procedures continue to perpetuate its blindspot to the manifold environmental consequences of its actions concerning the entry and settlement of mass numbers of people into the U.S. Moreover, in recent years DHS has, with increasing frequency, undertaken discretionary actions on a greater scale to allow such entry and settlement of a myriad of foreign nationals into the United States. These frequent, large scale, related actions by DHS result in significant environmental impacts throughout the entire United States. Nonetheless, DHS continues to fail to undertake NEPA review, in direct contravention of its mandate, before commencing such actions.