This week, the White House Council for Environmental Quality issued a final rule revising how agencies implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in reviews of environmental projects and permitting application. Business groups believe that the final rule will streamline the project review process and prevent unneeded delay of projects. However, environmental advocates have asserted their intent to challenge the rule, believing that it will more easily allow pollution by industries.
The new rule reduces the kinds of environmental “effects” resulting from a project that must be considered by agencies in determining the fate of project applications. Specifically, the effects that must now be considered are those affecting the “human environment,” being “reasonably foreseeable” and having “a reasonably close causal relationship to the proposed action.”
Under the new rule, analysis of climate change impacts would depend on the specific circumstances of the proposed action. Agencies are to consider “predictable environmental trends” in their baseline analyses of the “affected environment” rather than as an effect of the action.
Finally, the final rule sets a two-year time limit to complete environmental impact statements and a one-year time limit to complete less intensive environmental assessments. It also implements a system in which only one lead agency has the authority to issue a project approval or rejection.
The final rule can be found at the following link: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-07-16/pdf/2020-15179.pdf.
Christina Ku practices in Connell Foley’s Environmental Law group, where she applies a background in biological sciences and environmental regulation to a wide range of complex environmental matters. In particular, Christina ...
As Chair of Connell Foley's Environmental Law practice group, Agnes Antonian draws on her engineering background to address a broad range of complex environmental litigation and land use matters. Her environmental litigation ...