New GHG Considerations for Environmental Reviews

New guidance instructs federal agencies to develop implementation rules that would quantify greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and incorporate the social cost of carbon in cost/benefit analysis that could impact permits for construction projects.

On January 6, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued new interim guidance to instruct federal agencies on how to factor greenhouse gas emissions and climate change into National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews that come into play on many infrastructure projects where there is a federal nexus (e.g., federal action, funding, or permit).

The guidance directs agencies to assess and mitigate climate change impacts across the lifetime of the action as well as to consider alternatives. This could mean considering mass transit instead of increasing capacity of roadways; or steering project proponents to renewable energy instead of oil or gas extraction.

The guidance instructs agencies to develop implementation rules that would--

  • Quantify greenhouse gas emissions associated with the action (as well as the alternative actions);
  • Incorporate the social cost of carbon to make comparisons between the cost vs. benefits of a range of alternatives (to learn more about the social cost of carbon, see AGC’s recommendations to the Administration);
  • Consider reasonably foreseeable direct, indirect, and cumulative GHG emissions;
  • Mitigation for short and long-term climate effects; and
  • Incorporate environmental justice considerations.

The public comment period is open for two months, closing on March 10, 2023. However, the current administration removed requirements to take into account any public comments on guidance documents.

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at [email protected].

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