The National Environmental Policy Act was originally put in place to obligate all federal agencies to consider environmental impacts prior to implementing any new projects.
The Council on Environmental Quality, the White House agency that oversees NEPA implementation, proposed the recent changes that would restore regulatory provisions that had been in effect prior to changes finalized in 2020.
The Wildlife Society previously commented on the 2020 regulatory changes, requesting their modification or withdrawal. The current administration’s CEQ views the 2020 NEPA regulations as limiting the scope of NEPA analysis, potentially causing negative impacts to environmental quality.
The currently proposed changes are the first part of a two-phase approach for proposed revisions to the current regulations. The aim of this first phase is to revert to language utilized prior to the 2020 rulemaking. This includes revising the description of purpose and need, removing limitations on agency NEPA procedures, and returning to the prior definitions of “effects” or “impacts.”
The Wildlife Society expressed support for these proposed changes. The Society’s comments also emphasized the need for the withdrawal of additional 2020 changes, including page limits and deadlines for environmental reviews. Currently, an Environmental Analysis must be completed in one year and is limited to 75 pages and an Environmental Impact Statement in two years and is limited to 150 pages.
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