This week, the Council on Environmental Quality issued a final rule amending the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), effectively revoking changes made in 2020 by the Trump Administration that limited the scope of NEPA reviews. The rule is phase one of a two-part process, with additional rule-making expected later this year to address requirements related to environmental justice, climate change and other issues. These revisions will likely further complicate infrastructure and development projects and expand the timing of approvals.
The final rule requires federal agencies to evaluate the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of proposed infrastructure and other projects that require federal approval. These impacts include consideration of climate change and the effects on communities overburdened by already polluted air or water.
The rule also allows federal agencies to determine the “purpose and need” of a proposed project, permitting them to develop and consider alternative designs or approaches that do not “fully align with the stated goals of the project’s sponsor.” The rule also indicates that these regulations are the minimum environmental review standards for federal agencies, and allows federal agencies to tailor their procedures to help meet the specific needs of their agencies and the public.
The issuance of this rule, and the anticipated phase two rule-making, will likely result in more governmental scrutiny of modern infrastructure and other development projects and will lead to increased delays in obtaining federal approvals. If you are unsure how these changes impact your project, our Environmental Law Group is available to guide you through this and other applicable regulations.
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 ...