Administration Issues Guidance on Building Roads, Bridges to Include Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Last week, the Obama Administration issued final guidance that expands the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for federal permits on road and bridge projects. NEPA mandates federal agencies review the impact a project may have on the environment through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for all projects. The final guidance expands the NEPA permitting process by including direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions in the evaluating and quantifying process. The Administration stated that this guidance is "another big step in the administration’s effort to consider how all types of federal actions will impact climate change and identify opportunities to build climate resilience."
An EIS is very detailed and complicated to review and can take years or even decades to complete. Lawmakers are concerned that the new guidance to require direct, indirect and cumulative climate impacts to quantify the impact to the environment along with the EIS will only further delay these projects or eliminate the project all together. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), stated that the guidance holds no force because no one has filled the position of the chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Chairman Inhofe references the Vacancies Reform Act which states that no person may perform the duties of the vacant CEQ chairman position until the president has nominated and the Senate has confirmed that individual.
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