Federal Government Finalizes Significant Changes to NEPA Regulations

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Stoel Rives Environmental Law Blog

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)  issued the Final Rule implementing Phase 2 of significant revisions to NEPA regulations. Finalized May 1, 2024, CEQ describes these changes as enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental reviews while striving for regulatory certainty. The Final Rule implements the significant changes that require agencies to identify an environmentally preferable alternative, and undertake additional consideration of climate change and environmental justice in environmental analyses.

Key highlights of the Final Rule include:

  • Procedural Emphasis: Reinforces NEPA as a framework for informed decision-making without mandating outcomes, while also identifying environmentally preferable alternatives.
  • Climate Change Considerations: Mandates that federal agencies consider the effects of climate change in their environmental reviews.
  • Environmental Justice: Requires analysis of health and environmental effects on communities with environmental justice concerns to ensure equitable decision-making.
  • Public Engagement and Categorical Exclusions: Increases requirements for public participation and provides agencies with greater flexibility to determine activities exempt from detailed environmental assessment.

For more details and to see how this Final Rule may affect you, read our full write-up on the Stoel Rives Environmental Law Blog.

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