This week, the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the Biden Administration will be taking more time to review and propose rule changes guiding federal agency compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), likely to include assessments related to climate change and environmental justice (EJ). President Biden's Executive Orders have placed climate change and EJ consistently atop the list of environmental priorities the Administration will pursue. See, e.g., E.O. 13990, "Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis."
The announcement came in the context of a two-year extension of a September 2021 deadline for affected federal agencies to propose their own updated regulations to comply with CEQ's 2020 rule that revised NEPA implementing regulations. As amended, 40 CFR 1507.3(b) requires Federal agencies to propose their own regulations to implement the 2020 rule by September 14, 2021.
Anyone involved in large project developments that require federal approvals will be affected by these likely changes.
"CEQ is engaged in an ongoing and comprehensive review of the 2020 Rule for consistency with the nation's environmental, equity, and economic priorities; to evaluate the process CEQ used in developing the 2020 Rule; and to consider whether the 2020 Rule properly and lawfully interprets and implements NEPA. In conducting its review, CEQ will assess how to amend its NEPA regulations to deliver an efficient environmental review process that ensures robust public participation and environmental protection."