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®: CRE Regulatory Action of the Week

CEQ Issues New NEPA Improvement Guidance
The Council on Environmental Quality has issued its final guidance on Improving the Process for Preparing Efficient and Timely Environmental Reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. CEQ states that is is issuing this guidance for Federal departments and agencies to emphasize and clarify that techniques for preparing efficient and timely environmental reviews are available for all NEPA Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements. According to CEQ, agencies using these techniques should keep in mind the following basic principles:

  • NEPA encourages straightforward and concise reviews and documentation that are proportionate to potential impacts and effectively convey the relevant considerations in a timely manner to the public and decision makers, while rigorously addressing the issues presented;

  • NEPA shall be integrated into project planning to ensure planning and decisions reflect environmental considerations, avoid delays later in the process, and anticipate and attempt to resolve issues, rather than be an after-the-fact process that justifies decisions already made;

  • NEPA reviews should coordinate and take appropriate advantage of existing documents and studies, including through adoption and incorporation by reference;

  • Early and well-defined scoping can assist in focusing environmental reviews on appropriate issues that would be meaningful to a decision on the proposed action;

  • Agencies are encouraged to develop meaningful, predictable, and expeditious timelines for environmental reviews; and

  • Agencies should respond to comments in proportion to the scope and scale of the environmental issues raised.

  • The guidance is effective March 12, 2012.

  • Click here to read new NEPA guidance.