Trump Administration Proposes to Streamline NEPA Requirements

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The Trump Administration, through the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), has proposed to streamline regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which was created in 1970 to require federal agencies to evaluate the environmental effects of federal actions. CEQ has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking to modernize NEPA regulations to facilitate more timely reviews, clarify regulatory requirements, codify case law and CEQ issued guidance, and reflect current technologies and agency practices.This modernization effort is focused on streamlining interagency coordination processes consistent with the One Federal Decision policy established by Trump’s 2017 Executive Order, and holding agencies accountable to time limits for environmental reviews. In particular, the revised regulations would establish time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements and one year for completion of environmental assessments, reducing the current four to five year NEPA waiting time for approvals. In addition, the proposed rule modifies the threshold consideration of whether NEPA applies to a particular action and federal agencies would only need to consider environmental effects that are reasonably foreseeable and have a close causal relationship to the project. President Trump has stated that he wants to streamline the “outrageously slow and burdensome federal approval process” that can delay major infrastructure projects for years. Comments are due to CEQ by March 10, 2020. CEQ also plans to hold public hearings in February in Washington DC and Denver, Colorado.

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