The White House announced last week sweeping changes to federal environmental policy as the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a notice for its final rule, titled “Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act,” or NEPA.

The final rule modernizes and clarifies the regulations to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews by improving interagency coordination, promoting earlier public involvement, increasing transparency, and enhancing the participation of States, Tribes, and localities, the CEQ says. The final rule will advance the original goals of the regulations to reduce paperwork, delays, and promote better decision-making.

 “This final rule provides a much needed and long overdue update to the nation’s far-reaching environmental policy and brings to bear some practical improvements to NEPA’s critical review process,” says Leif Wathne, ACPA Executive Vice president. “We believe the final rule will help facilitate a more efficient process for approving highway, airport, and other critical infrastructure projects throughout the nation.”

“ACPA strongly supports environmental review and views it as both necessary and essential to sustainable construction practices that we support,” Leif says, adding, “The changes to NEPA bring the policy into the 21st century and will have a significant positive impact on efficient construction of safe highways, roadways, airports and other surface transportation elements.”

“We’re encouraged by the changes and believe that they are particularly timely at a time when infrastructure investment is sorely needed to help the United States recover from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says.

For more information, click here to see links to the final rule, redlined changes, and a factsheet. Click here to see the Administration’s perspectives on this rule and other measures aimed at reducing burdensome, outdated regulations.

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Caption: Illustration shows detail from a CEQ report on timelines for environmental impact studies. The illustration underscores the lengthy process for environmental reviews, a long-standing issue that the NEPA final rule addresses.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.