Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Climate Change to Receive More Attention under NEPA

Climate change will receive more attention in the analysis of environmental impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), according to a Draft Guidance issued on Feb. 18 by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Charged with advising federal agencies on the implementation of NEPA, CEQ proposes that the environmental analysis of major projects consider the effect on climate change of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that would be emitted by the proposed project, as well as the potential impact of climate change on the project itself. Although some courts have come to the conclusion that NEPA requires such analysis, this is the first time that CEQ has spoken out on the issue, sparking a debate over the role that climate change should play when the federal government makes major decisions affecting the environment. Because those decisions include a vast array of essential permits and other approvals, the stakes for private developers of major projects are potentially high. CEQ is receiving public comment on the Draft Guidance for 90 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which should occur shortly...read more

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