CEQ Takes Action to Restore Pre-2020 NEPA Regulations

This submit is a part of an ongoing sequence masking the Biden administration’s efforts pursuant to Government Order 13990 to repeal and substitute rules adopted in the course of the Trump administration. Prior posts embody Catching Up on the 2021 Clear Water Act Releases.

The Council on Environmental High quality (CEQ) not too long ago issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend Nationwide Environmental Coverage Act (NEPA) rules adopted by the Trump administration in 2020. CEQ oversees federal companies’ compliance with NEPA, together with its necessities to think about environmental impacts and put together Environmental Impression Statements (EIS) earlier than authorizing or instantly taking “major federal actions.” The 2020 amendments had been the primary important revisions to NEPA rules since their implementation in 1978.

The Discover of Proposed Rulemaking initiates Section I of CEQ’s method of reconsidering and revising the 2020 amendments in two phases. The Section I rulemaking focuses on revisions to a discrete set of 2020 modification provisions “by generally reverting to the language from the 1978 NEPA regulations that w[ere] in effect for more than 40 years.”

In Section I, CEQ proposes three revisions to the NEPA rules:

  • Elimination of language added by the 2020 amendments that changed the aim and want part, and associated definition of “reasonable alternatives,” of an EIS.

    • When an company is reviewing an utility for authorization, the 2020 amendments require companies to base the aim and want of the topic motion on the objectives of an applicant and the company’s statutory authority. CEQ proposes to revert to the unique 1978 regulatory language for goal.

  • Clarification that companies have the discretion and adaptability to develop procedures past the CEQ regulatory necessities.

    • CEQ proposes to take away the “ceiling provisions” added by the 2020 amendments, which made CEQ’s rules a ceiling for company NEPA procedures. CEQ’s proposed rulemaking would allow companies to develop environmental evaluation procedures to deal with their particular packages that transcend CEQ’s regulatory necessities.

  • Revise the definitions of “effects” or “impacts” to restore the substance of the definitions contained within the unique 1978 rules with modifications in step with the present Code of Federal Regulations.

    • CEQ proposes to restore the definitions of “direct” and “indirect” results and “cumulative impacts” to the unique 1978 language by incorporating them into the definition of “effects” or “impacts” so that every reference to these phrases would come with direct, oblique, and cumulative results.

The place Section I of the rulemaking course of typically restores provisions that had been in impact earlier than being modified in 2020, it’s anticipated that Section II of the rulemaking course of will suggest additional revisions to make sure the NEPA course of “provides for efficient and effective environmental reviews,” and meets environmental, environmental justice, and local weather change aims. The proposed modifications may end in elevated NEPA evaluation timelines for initiatives involving company motion relating to federal lands, federal cash, or federal permits or approvals.

The remark interval for the Section I proposed rule closes on November 22, 2021. Feedback could be submitted by means of the Federal Register. Greater than 34,000 feedback have been submitted to date. Section II of the rulemaking is anticipated to be issued within the subsequent a number of months.

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