Steps to Modernize and Reinvigorate NEPA

Enacted in 1970, NEPA is a cornerstone of our Nation's efforts to protect the environment and a fundamental tool to harmonize our economic and environmental aspirations. It recognizes that many Federal activities affect the environment and mandates that Federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their proposed actions before acting. NEPA emphasizes public involvement in government actions affecting the environment by requiring that the benefits and the risks associated with proposed actions be assessed and publicly disclosed.

On February 18, 2010, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed steps to modernize and reinvigorate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), in conjunction with its 40th Anniversary. These measures will assist Federal agencies to meet the goals of NEPA, enhance the quality of public involvement in governmental decisions relating to the environment, increase transparency and ease implementation.

For example, the Administration has formed rapid response teams to help expedite the review process for transportation, transmission and renewable energy projects and improve the overall quality and timeliness of federal permitting and environmental reviews. These rapid response teams help to meet the goals of President Obama's memorandum on "Speeding Infrastructure Development through More Efficient and Effective Permitting and Environmental Review".

NEPA Pilot Projects Program
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As part of the effort to improve NEPA implementation, CEQ issued its March 17, 2011 solicitation to members of the public and Federal agencies, inviting them to nominate projects employing innovative approaches to completing environmental reviews more efficiently and effectively. CEQ is working with the relevant Federal agencies to implement and track the five selected pilots in an effort to evaluate their outcomes, and highlight and promote lessons learned on time- and cost-saving approaches to replicate across the government.

NEPA Handbooks
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On March 5, 2013, CEQ released two handbooks that encourage more efficient environmental reviews under NEPA by integrating the NEPA process with the review processes of the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 and the California Environmental Quality Act.  The handbooks will facilitate quicker, more informed Federal decision-making on projects that impact American communities and help agencies improve efficiency, maximize staff resources, and reduce costs.

Enhanced Public Tools for Reporting on NEPA Activities
Access the updated www.nepa.gov website.
CEQ continues to upgrade this site to include the status of reviews of agency NEPA guidance, Recovery Act NEPA reporting, and real-time NEPA review status. These upgrades are designed to improve public participation and the quality of Federal agency administration of NEPA.

Other Steps to Modernize and Reinvigorate NEPA

Final CEQ Guidance on NEPA Efficiencies
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Final CEQ Guidance Clarifying Use of Categorical Exclusions
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Final CEQ Guidance for Mitigation and Monitoring
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Draft CEQ Guidance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change Impacts
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