NEPA

On January 6th, the White House Council of Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) released a new Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change (“the Guidance”) in permitting decisions, with significant implications for energy and infrastructure projects.  Though this Guidance is effective as of the date of publication, it was issued on an interim basis and CEQ will consider comments until March 10th, after which it could be revised further. 

CEQ’s recommendations will influence the Biden Administration’s analysis of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), applying immediately to all newly proposed actions as well as some on-going NEPA reviews.  While the Guidance is largely framed as a series of recommendations rather than requirements, it highlights best practices for environmental reviews that could help expedite project completions, improve agency decision making, and minimize litigation risks for developers.  Ultimately, CEQ is trying to ensure that agencies and project developers pay sufficient attention to climate impacts, without causing unwarranted delays to agency decision-making, particularly considering that accelerating clean energy infrastructure is a key component of the Biden Admiration’s climate agenda. 

The Guidance seeks to foster a greater understanding of GHG impacts and the tradeoffs among alternatives, thus raising expectations around the quality of federal GHG analyses.  Project developers will want to work closely with federal regulators to ensure the sufficiency of agency NEPA reviews. Failures to do so may provide project opponents a pathway to litigation. Continue Reading White House issues guidance on greenhouse gas analysis in permitting decisions

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

The D.C. Circuit issued a decision in Vecinos para el Bienestar de la Comunidad Costera v. FERC, which faulted FERC for failing to consider whether the social cost of carbon (SCC) is a “generally accepted” analytical tool for assessing the significance of greenhouse gas impacts under NEPA.  The decision is likely to result in

In a recently adopted final rule, the Department of Energy (DOE) revised its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementation procedures to include LNG exports by marine vessel within a categorical exclusion from NEPA review.  DOE finds that the only source of potential environmental impacts within its authority to review are those associated with transporting natural gas by ship, which DOE determined does not pose the potential for significant environmental impacts. Accordingly, LNG exports qualify for a categorical exclusion from NEPA review.  The new rule applies to new export authorizations as well as amendments to existing authorizations.
Continue Reading DOE Rule Sharply Limits Evaluation of Environmental Impacts of LNG Exports

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

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

The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently issued updated draft guidance on how federal agencies should consider greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the attendant impacts on climate change when conducting environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  CEQ simultaneously released related, final guidance on conducting programmatic NEPA reviews.  While these actions