CEQ’s Proposal to Update its NEPA Implementing Regulations:

CEQ requests public comment on the NPRM. Comments should be submitted on or before March 10, 2020.

  • You may submit comments via any of the following methods:
    • Go to https://www.regulations.gov/ and follow the online instructions for submitting comments to Docket ID No. CEQ-2019-0003
    • By Fax: 202-456-6546
    • By mail:
      • Council on Environmental Quality
        730 Jackson Place NW
        Washington, DC 20503
        Attn: Docket No. CEQ-2019-0003

CEQ will hold public hearings on the following dates:

  • February 11, 2020, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO.
    • Registration Information: Anyone wishing to attend the public hearing, either as a speaker or as a listener, must register in advance on Eventbrite. Free tickets to both sessions are available at the links below.
      • Tickets for the morning session (9 am-Noon MST) are available HERE.
      • Tickets for the afternoon session (1 pm-4 pm MST) are available HERE.
    • Press Release
  • February 25, 2020, U.S. Department of the Interior, Yates Auditorium, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC.

Please check back regularly for updates regarding the registration for the public hearings and additional outreach.

Further Background:

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), signed into law on January 1, 1970, requires Federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of proposed major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. NEPA’s requirements apply to a broad range of actions affecting the daily lives of Americans across the country. From the construction of roads, bridges, highways, transmission lines, conventional and renewable energy projects, broadband deployment, and water infrastructure to management of activities on Federal lands, such as grazing, forest management, and wildfire protection to environmental restoration and other projects.

CEQ has not comprehensively updated its NEPA implementing regulations since 1978, more than four decades ago. Over time, the NEPA process has become increasingly complex and time consuming. CEQ has found that, on average, it takes Federal agencies 4 and half years to complete environmental impact statements (EISs) under NEPA, and for some projects it takes much longer. Additionally, these statements can also be lengthy and exceed, on average, 600 pages.

In 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order (EO) 13807 which directed CEQ to review its existing NEPA regulations and modernize and accelerate the Federal environmental review and decision-making process.

Timeline of CEQ’s NEPA Review:

CEQ Reports:

On December 14, 2018, CEQ issued a report on the length of time Federal agencies spent to complete EISs under NEPA. CEQ found that over the past decade, the average time for agencies to complete an EIS was 4 and a half years. CEQ’s current guidance suggests that this process, even for complex projects, should not take more than one year.

On July 22, 2019, CEQ issued a report on the average length, by page, of EISs. CEQ found that the average length of an EIS was over 600 pages. CEQ’s current regulations suggest EISs should normally be less than 150 pages and less than 300 pages for proposals of unusual scope or complexity.

CEQ has also developed and published a comprehensive list of all Federal agencies’ categorical exclusions (CEs) under NEPA. CEs are actions that a Federal agency has determined do not have a significant impact on the environment. CEs are not exemptions from NEPA, but rather they are a form of NEPA review.

Recent Guidance:

On June 21, 2019, CEQ proposed guidance for agencies regarding the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions when evaluating proposed major Federal actions in accordance with NEPA.

For further information on NEPA, visit NEPA.gov.