A proposed program will help streamline transmission permits.
A week ago, the Biden Administration proposed a new program called CITAP to accelerate permitting from transmission lines. If properly implemented, the program will do much more for permitting reform than the recent NEPA amendments in the debt ceiling law. The reason? CITAP implements a statute that is much more ambitious in its overhaul of …CONTINUE READING
CEQ’s proposal is good, but it could be made even better.
In Monday’s post, I praised the CEQ’s proposed new NEPA regulations. They should streamline the process without compromising protection of the environment or environmental justice. I do have some suggestions for improvement, however, which are detailed below. Beyond my specific suggestions, I also hope that CEQ would view the new NEPA regulations as the beginning …CONTINUE READING
The White House ‘s proposed regulations will streamline the process while still protecting the environment.
Early on Friday, the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released the proposed Phase II revisions of its NEPA regulations. The CEQ proposal deftly threads the needle, streamlining the NEPA process while protecting the environment and disadvantaged communities. The proposal is a clear improvement over both earlier versions: 1978 rules issued by the Carter …CONTINUE READING
Two stories of the unknown environmental advocates behind major Supreme Court decisions.
My students often wonder whether they can actually make a difference. I like to tell them the story of Joe Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn, who worked at a tiny, obscure non-profit, decided that EPA needed to address climate change. His efforts, recounted in a book by Richard Lazarus, led to the Supreme Court’s blockbuster opinion in Massachusetts …CONTINUE READING
Surveying the legal problems of the biggest NEPA changes in the past fifty years.
On June 5, President Biden signed the debt ceiling bill, which provides the first significant rewrite of NEPA since it was passed over fifty years ago. In a series of blog posts, I’ve explored some of the legal issues raised by the amendments. My goal has been highlighting problem areas rather than providing anything like …CONTINUE READING
Will the new NEPA provisions speed approval of urgently needed projects?
In terms of the energy transition, the most important question about the recent NEPA amendments is whether they streamline permitting for transmission projects. The answer is complicated. We can divide transmission projects into two groups. The first group consists of transmission projects where federal involvement is limited to specific segments, such as stream crossings requiring …CONTINUE READING
Delegating Environmental Reviews to Project Sponsors
One of the most important provisions, of the new NEPA law, § 107(f), allows the lead agency to delegate preparation of environmental reviews to project applicants. There are unsettled questions about when this provision applies and how it interfaces with other parts of NEPA. There are clear conflicts of interest in assigning this role to …CONTINUE READING
The enactment of NEPA 2.0 presents a golden opportunity for the agency.
In the recent debt ceiling law, Congress extensively revamped NEPA, the law governing environmental impact statements. An obscure White House agency, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), will have the first opportunity to shape the interpretation of the new language. Much of the language in the new law is poorly drafted or vague, making CEQ’s …CONTINUE READING
In an effort to streamline NEPA, Congress may only have made parts of it incomprehensible.
Shortly after Biden signed the new NEPA rewrite as part of the debt ceiling law, I wrote a blog post about a major drafting glitch at the heart of the new provisions. Today, I’d like to follow up with more examples. This poor drafting could really hobble implementation of the new provisions. We live in …CONTINUE READING
The new NEPA amendments weren’t intended to speed up the process. But they’ll also spark new litigation.
The Interior Department has a rule that environmental review isn’t required for a prescribed fire of 4,500 acres, subject to restrictions that aren’t relevant here. Prior law authorized this kind of regulation but also required the agency to consider whether a particular fire involved exceptional circumstances, such as being next to a wilderness area. After …CONTINUE READING