NEPA Process to Include Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

THE CEQ announced today in the Federal Register that “climate change and greenhouse gas emissions” must be considered in future NEPA processes.

The Council On Environmental Quality (CEQ) is the Federal board charged with implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Enacted in 1970, NEPA mandates that Federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their proposed actions before acting, principally through the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) or Environmental Assessments (EA’s).

The announcement [Federal Register: February 23, 2023 (Volume 75, Number 35)][Notices][Page 8046] requests that public comments be submitted before the CEQ adopts the new “guidance” regulations.

The proposed new regulations also modify language related to Categorical Exclusions (CEs) and mitigation and monitoring.

More information is available at the following CEQ websites:

New CEQ NEPA Guidance [here]

In conjunction with NEPA’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, CEQ is publishing three draft NEPA guidance documents for review and comment. Below are links to the draft guidance documents and instructions for submitting comments:

- ESTABLISHING AND APPLYING CATEGORICAL EXCLUSIONS [here]

Comments are due 45 days after publication of the Federal Register notice.

Submit Comments to http://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/initiatives/nepa

- MITIGATION AND MONITORING [here]

Comments are due 90 days after publication of the Federal Register notice.

Submit Comments to http://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/initiatives/nepa

- CONSIDERING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS AND CLIMATE CHANGE [here]

Comments are due 90 days after publication of the Federal Register notice.

Submit Comments to http://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/initiatives/nepa

Additional information is available at www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives

23 Feb 2010, 5:08pm
by Larry H.


Sooooo, now does that mean we can finally adjust forest densities to meet the “new climate’s rainfall patterns”? I would think that this decision could justify such an essential part of forest restoration. Do we REALLY have to re-visit Cat-Ex, once again?!?! No matter how the government spins it, eco-groups will litigate. Any fast-tracking of timber projects will be met with an army of lawyers and more of the same.

But, we’ve all seen this before. The litigious eco-community is already painting Obama as a “bait-and-switch politician”. They will use that as a justification for legal monkeywrenching and opposition to any “change” in environmental laws.

23 Feb 2010, 5:35pm
by Larry H.


“Federal agencies should consider establishing categorical exclusions limited to those regions or areas where an agency can conclude the actions will not have significant environmental effects individually or cumulatively.”

This will further limit the use of CE’s, especially using the “cumulatively” term. One could even say that road maintenance projects cannot use a CE because of the cumulative effects upon multiple issues.

“Agency actions that are typically subject to categorical exclusion are readily identified based on a considered determination that the activities are expected to have no significant environmental effects (e.g., administrative activities [such as payroll processing], conducting surveys and data collection, and routine procurement of goods and services [such as office supplies]).”

Continuing with the “cumulative” theme, one could argue in court that buying fuel for work trucks and fire engines have cumulative effects. That using coal-powered or nuclear-powered electricity in Forest Service offices has cumulative effects. That even having outhouses in the forest will need an EA. This looks more and more like a Pandora’s Box. I wonder if they could force the Forest Service to do an EIS to justify the very existence of the Agency.

“The use of scientific analyses need not be limited to peer-reviewed findings. Although such findings may be especially useful to support an agency’s scientific analysis, other sources may include professional opinions, reports, and research findings.”

Any peer review used in government plans MUST have names attached to each and every peer review. Remember, this is SUPPOSED to be totally transparent. We want… errr… NEED… to know WHO is peer reviewing what!!! If you are going to peer review something, OWN the damn thing!!

23 Feb 2010, 9:00pm
by Larry H.


Mitigation and Monitoring

“Agencies necessarily and appropriately rely upon the expertise and experience of their professional staff in determining mitigation needs, appropriate mitigation plans, and mitigation implementation. In making those determinations, the agency staff may refer to outside resources when establishing mitigation requirements in order to ensure the efficacy of the desired outcomes, including sufficient attention to ecosystem functions and values protected or restored by mitigation. A Federal agency may use outside experts when developing the mitigation and monitoring. The individuals helping to develop the measures and plans should have expert knowledge, training, and experience relevant to the resources potentially affected by the actions and, if possible, the potential effects from similar actions.”

The Forest Service seems like they will probably not be able to meet the goals outlined in mitigation implementation. This is due to a serious lack of expertise, with very little in the way of qualified new employees in the pipeline to meet the workload of the future. Will the USDA set aside funds to train the army of people needed to accomplish their goals??

Forest management projects already have a solid mitigation framework in place, with boilerplate BMP’s and established provisions within the comprehensive Timber Sale Contract. I think the Obama Administration thinks that loggers and mills quite often walk away from unfinished projects. Personally, I’ve NEVER seen mitigation measures not completed on any of my own projects. If they intend to implement third party inspectors, why do we even need Sale Administrators and Harvest Inspectors? Do we really need redundant government employees looking at every project?

In the past, I was sent out to inspect BMP compliance on salvage logging projects. My reports were not well-received because they accurately reported significant problems I found. The problems resulted from a lack of monitoring and experience by Forest Service employees with loggers and purchasers. Sadly, those bad reports helped me lose that job. I would suggest that any new inspectors be certified as Timber Sale monitors, learning the intricate details of forest management, logging and natural resource protection. You can’t just take an “ologist” and give him broad powers to require things not in the contract.

23 Feb 2010, 10:21pm
by Mike


Larry,

The powers of the ‘ologists exceed the U.S. Constitution. One word from an ‘ologist and the “unalienable” rights of the citizenry can be completely alienated. It is time for patriots to come to the aid of their country and overthrow the power elite who have eroded away the very foundation of our freedoms.

See No Balancing of Hardship in ESA Cases [here].

24 Feb 2010, 8:18pm
by scott


One small step for Obama, one giant leap for CAP AND TAX

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