NEPA

On July 31, 2023, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released the  second phase of its revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations that govern federal environmental review. Titled the “Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule,” the proposed rule reflects CEQ’s aim to revise and modernize the regulations and incorporate updates to address recent statutory changes to NEPA in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.1 Continue Reading White House Council on Environmental Quality Proposes “Phase 2” Revisions to Environmental Review Regulations

The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, signed into law on June 3, raised the U.S. debt limit and ushered in the most significant revisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its 50+ year history. While the statutory changes are notable and important to understand, most of the changes codify longstanding agency practice and are expected to have only modest effects on environmental reviews, primarily with respect to timelines for completion.

In addition to these statutory changes, energy and infrastructure developers and other stakeholders are awaiting the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ’s) “Phase 2” proposed NEPA rule. CEQ will likely seek to harmonize its proposed rule with the new statutory changes and could pose questions for public comment regarding new provisions that may warrant interpretation by CEQ. Congress may pursue additional permitting-related changes in the coming months, as well.

The following is a summary of the key changes to NEPA, placed in relevant context.Continue Reading Amendments to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Permitting Reform in Context 

One of the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) notable features is the creation of a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF).  This fund could create a mechanism to quickly disburse up to $27 billion to clean energy technologies, without undergoing the sometimes laborious reviews required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  IRA § 60103. Continue Reading Inflation Reduction Act Sets the Stage for a National Green Bank

In two recent certificate orders issued on May 20, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) did not assess the significance of the greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions of natural gas pipeline projects in terms of their contribution to climate change. This seems to be a step back from a March, 2021 order, which indicated that FERC would consider the significance of natural gas emissions in the context of a certificate involving pipeline replacement facilities, but reflects an unusual last-minute compromise reached during an open meeting in order to gain sufficient votes to approve the certificates.
Continue Reading FERC Policy on GHG Impact of Gas Pipelines on Climate Still in Flux

On July 17, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a Final Rule updating regulations to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Final Rule closely tracks the Proposed Rule released in January 2020. The final rule makes a number of notable changes to existing NEPA regulations.
Continue Reading CEQ Finalizes NEPA Rule Updating Regulations

The Department of Energy proposes to no longer subject LNG exports to evaluation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  According to a recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR), DOE says that the only source of potential environmental impacts within its authority to review are those associated with transporting natural gas by ship, and those shipments qualify for categorical exclusion from NEPA review.
Continue Reading DOE Proposes to Stop Evaluating Environmental Impacts of LNG Exports

Earlier this week, President Trump released the outline of his infrastructure plan, which includes over three dozen proposals intended to reduce delay, inefficiency and redundancy in the project permitting process.  The plan contemplates amendments to major federal environmental statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.

Infrastructure Week is underway in Washington, DC, and across the country, highlighting the importance of investing in and modernizing America’s aging infrastructure.  The emphasis is on the essential role infrastructure plays in our economy.

Covington & Burling, together with Common Good, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and the National Association of Manufacturers, co-hosted an event on