The White House Council on Environmental Quality released a proposed rule this morning updating National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The proposed rulemaking would streamline outdated regulations that delay and block the development of critical infrastructure projects across the country as they await permitting.

Reaction from Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform:

 “NEPA regulations slowed down infrastructure projects under the Obama administration, creating an average delay of four years for needless paperwork–contrary to CEQ’s guidance under the Reagan administration limiting the permitting process to one year.

It should never take four years for the government to issue a permit to build a bridge. Crucial infrastructure projects should receive their environmental review in a timely manner and be based solely on the merits of the project. Today’s proposal from CEQ is a significant step forward.”

Key provisions of proposed rulemaking:

  • Establishing time limits for completion of environmental impact statements (EISs) to two years and completion of environmental assessments (EAs) to one year.
  • Allows applicants to assume a greater role in preparing EISs under agency supervision.
  • Requires a single record of decision (ROD) for EISs involving multiple agencies.
  • Provides new direction on whether NEPA applies to a project.
  • Provides a clarifying definition that a proposed project’s effects must be “reasonably foreseeable” and have a reasonably close relationship to the proposed action that is casual.