Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
Today, October 7, 2021, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to revise changes to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) 2020 Final Rule. In a Press Release issued yesterday CEQ stated that this action is aimed at restoring community safeguards during environmental reviews on federal projects. CEQ is also conducting this comprehensive review as directed by E.O. 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis”, and E.O. 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad”, issued by President Biden on January 20 and 27, 2021.
CEQ has stated that revisions to the 2020 NEPA Final Rule will be conducted in two phases – Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 of this process is proposing an NPRM to restore general provisions of NEPA that were in effect for decades before being modified in 2020. Specifically, the NPRM proposes restoring provisions addressing the purpose and need of a proposed action, agency NEPA procedures for implementing CEQ's NEPA regulations, and the restoring the definition of “effects” and “cumulative impacts”. Phase 2 will focus on broad revisions to NEPA to, “help ensure full and fair public involvement in the environmental review process; meet the challenges of the nation’s environmental, climate change, and environmental justice challenges; provide regulatory certainty to stakeholders; and promote better decision-making consistent with NEPA’s goals and requirements.”
CEQ has announced that it will host two Public Meetings on the NEPA NRPM. Details are as follows—
Date: Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Time: 1:00pm to 4:00pm ET
Date: Thursday, October 21, 2021
Time: 5:00pm to 8:00pm ET
Comments on the NEPA NPRM are due November 22, 2021 and can be submitted through regulations.gov
under Docket Number CEQ-2021-0002.
On September 30, 2021, CEQ hosted a Tribal consultation on revisions to NEPA’s regulations. During this consultation, CEQ announced that it was planning to revise the NEPA 2020 Final Rule and that it was committed to maintaining and providing a NEPA process that responds to the priorities and voices of Tribal Nations. CEQ also indicated that it plans to consult with Tribal Nations throughout this rulemaking process, which it has also stated in the NPRM. During the consultation, CEQ also stated that some of the NEPA revisions made by the 2020 Final Rule empowered Tribal Nations and our decision-making processes, and those revisions would not be rescinded.
USET SPF was active throughout the rulemaking process leading to the 2020 NEPA Final Rule. USET SPF submitted comments
to CEQ on August 20, 2018 in response to a CEQ Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on revising NEPA regulations. During CEQ’s next phase of rulemaking, we submitted follow-up comments
on March 10, 2020. In both of our comment submissions we expressed serious concerns with revising NEPA regulations absent Tribal consultation and input. Our comments stressed the importance of Tribal consultation and the lack of consultation regarding the proposed NEPA revisions. We also expressed serious concern that proposed NEPA revisions will have significant impact on Tribal Nations and our ability to protect and manage Tribal resources as well as protect sacred sites and historic properties.
For more information, please contact Brian Howard, USET SPF Senior Policy Analyst, at email@example.com.