On July 16, 2020, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released long-awaited revisions to its regulations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). CEQ’s revisions come over 40 years after it first promulgated the regulations. In the interim decades, the NEPA process has become infamous for its long delays for project development, intensive paperwork requirements, long litigation timelines, and guarantees of uncertainty for all stakeholders. In the revised regulations, CEQ seeks to reduce these hurdles to allow for more informed decision-making by agencies and a better-informed public, while also creating more reasonable timelines for project proponents. CEQ has undertaken a comprehensive cleaning-of-house, covering everything from words per page to addressing substantive issues such as how an agency should consider effects in its NEPA analysis. In this alert, we highlight the background and key provisions of the rule and consider what comes next for project proponents.
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