May 2024

Biden CEQ Finalizes New NEPA Rule, and States Sue

Michael Bennon

Uncertainty (and lawfare) over federal permitting for large public works is likely to continue in the coming months, as the Biden Administration and a coalition of mostly red states battle it out in court over a recent rulemaking. At the end of April, Biden Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) finalized a major overhaul of its guidance for federal permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA). A lawsuit challenging the rulemaking was brought several weeks later.

The new guidance makes important changes to the procedures federal agencies use to study projects under NEPA, and the risk of permitting litigation. The Biden Administration has stated that the changes will “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental reviews,” while critics claim that the new rules will slow down permitting and make it easier for project stakeholders to intervene in the permitting process with litigation or the threat thereof.

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