Last month, the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) proposed to restore several key provisions to the regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) that were revised in 2020. NEPA is the decades-old statute that requires federal agencies to analyze the environmental impact of their actions, and as we previously explained, the revisions that CEQ made in 2020 and now proposes to rescind ran afoul of the statute and improperly limited agencies’ abilities to consider critical environmental effects.
As we explain in this comment letter, CEQ’s proposal offers many compelling justifications for reinstating important NEPA regulations, and should explicitly note several additional reasons that its proposal is more legally defensible and cost-justified than the 2020 Rule. This includes assessing the costs and benefits of the Proposed Rule and highlighting fundamental flaws in the regulatory impact analysis that CEQ conducted for the 2020 Rule.
In the Proposed Rule, CEQ also appropriately recognizes the need for additional rulemaking that promotes better decision-making and ensures efficient and effective environmental reviews that are consistent with NEPA’s text and purpose. Our comments suggest regulations and guidance that would promote the public welfare and enhance agency consideration of greenhouse gas emissions, climate risk, and environmental justice.