The White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced its final rule to comprehensively update and modernize its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations for the first time in over 40 years.
CEQ says the announcement comes after a multi-year review of NEPA regulations, and after receiving over 1.1 million public comments from a broad range of stakeholders on a variety of issues relating to the regulations, as well as hosting public hearings and conducting other public outreach.
Signed into law in 1970, NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the potential environmental impacts of proposed major federal actions. The NEPA process can apply to a wide variety of projects and activities from the construction of roads, bridges, highways, public transit, and airports to water infrastructure, conventional and renewable energy projects, and land, forest, and fishery management activities. CEQ’s NEPA regulations date back to 1978 and have never been comprehensively updated until now.
Since NEPA’s enactment, CEQ says implementation has become complex and time consuming for federal agencies and Americans seeking permits or approvals from the federal government. CEQ has found that NEPA reviews for highway projects take more than seven years, and in some cases take a decade or more. The agency says delays due to lengthy reviews and lawsuits increase costs for project applicants, states, tribes, localities, and taxpayers.
CEQ says its final rule will modernize the NEPA regulations to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely environmental reviews by simplifying and clarifying regulatory requirements. A fact sheet on the final rule can be found here.
SOURCE: Council on Environmental Quality