White House Snubs Congress on Permitting Reform

New NEPA rule adds requirements to an already complicated permitting process and ignores the permitting reforms passed by Congress.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) final rule, “National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Implementing Regulations Revisions Phase 2” (published May 1), earned swift rebuke from the Congressional leaders behind the permitting reforms in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA). AGC echoes their concern that the rule will only exacerbate the permitting process, lead to more lawsuits, and delay projects further. The rule is likely to face action under the Congressional Review Act.

The final rule elevates climate and community impacts---requiring extensive review of effects, alternatives analysis, and mitigation on top of an already protracted process. Through this dual lens, the administration will direct and decide which projects deserve to move forward. The initial focus is on fossil fuels, but NEPA also applies to highway and transportation projects as well as other development decisions where the only federal connection may be a permit.

AGC is still reviewing the final rule and will provide more analysis in the coming days. At the proposal stage, AGC urged the administration to be more consistent with the FRA permitting reforms. AGC also was concerned that the proposal removed reference to the “procedural” nature of the rule from the text, which carries through to the final. This changes NEPA’s purpose from its enactment from a procedural review to one that drives policy outcomes for federal activities. AGC also expressed concern about overreach related to expanded mitigation and review requirements.

For more information, contact Leah Pilconis or Alex Etchen.

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.