White House Proposal Enhances New Permitting Efficiences


The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has released a proposed rule that would fully implement and build upon new permitting efficiencies directed by Congress under the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.

CEQ’s Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule would modernize and accelerate environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), encourage early community engagement, accelerate America’s clean energy future, strengthen energy security, and advance environmental justice.

The Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule would fully implement the statutory reforms to NEPA included in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, including clarifying the roles of lead and cooperating agencies, setting deadlines and page limits, and adding other requirements to ensure timely and unified environmental reviews. The proposed rule also includes a process for a federal agency to use another agency’s categorical exclusion, unlocking faster reviews for projects that have few environmental effects.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the proposed rule improves efficiency and certainty for projects and stakeholders by creating new tools to accelerate and improve environmental review – including encouraging agencies to consider a project’s mitigation measures to reduce the level of environmental review required; additional mechanisms for agencies to establish categorical exclusions; and enabling wider adoption of programmatic environmental reviews to expedite broad categories of projects. These reforms will help accelerate everything from wildfire management and electric vehicle charging infrastructure to transmission and offshore wind.

This proposal is Phase 2 of CEQ’s NEPA rulemaking. Last year, CEQ finalized a targeted regulation that restored three basic elements of its NEPA regulations, including a reaffirmation that federal agencies must evaluate all relevant environmental effects – including those associated with climate change – during environmental reviews.

For specific details on the proposed rule, visit the Federal Register.

The proposed rule will be open for public comment through Friday, September 29, 2023 via Regulations.gov. CEQ will hold virtual public meetings on the proposal on Saturday, August 26; Wednesday, August 30; Monday, September 11; and Thursday, September 21. For information about joining these public meetings, visit CEQ/NEPA.

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