Integrating Climate into NEPA

By August 31, 2016 No Comments

From: Earth & Water Group August e-newsletter

As part of the Obama administration’s efforts to address climate change, the White House Council on Environmental Quality published its final guidance on how federal agencies should incorporate the effects of climate change into their environmental reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Under NEPA, federal agencies are required to identify and consider the environmental effects of their own actions or any private sector action in which they play a role, including major infrastructure and energy development projects.  The guidance suggests agencies compare the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and climate change effects of project alternatives even when the activity may represent a very small fraction of global emissions.

Given the complexity of the task, agency’s application of the guidance may be inconsistent and lead to project and permitting delays as they struggle to ensure their analyses and determinations are able to withstand judicial review.

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