CEQ postpones agency deadline for Trump NEPA rules

By Kelsey Brugger | 06/28/2021 12:25 PM EST

Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. Francis Chung/E&E News

The White House Council on Environmental Quality is postponing compliance with the Trump administration’s rules to speed up National Environmental Policy Act reviews.

In a press release issued today, CEQ said federal agencies have an additional two years to comply with procedural requirements mandated by 2020 NEPA regulations.

That means agencies like the departments of the Interior and Energy have until September 2023 to propose revisions, according to a notice that will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register.

Changes to the NEPA rules were a cornerstone of former President Trump’s quest to achieve "energy dominance" and undo what his supporters called the administrative state.

The new rules were supposed to accelerate project reviews, reduce court challenges and limit the scope of climate change scrutiny. The rules went into effect last September and had required agencies to change their procedures by this September (E&E News PM, July 15).

Staying the course would have forced the new administration to advance guidelines that environmentalists call detrimental to human and environmental health. And CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory has signaled that reviewing Trump’s NEPA changes was a priority.

Today’s notice says CEQ is reviewing the Trump rule and considering whether it "properly and lawfully interprets and implements NEPA." In the review, CEQ says, it will assess how to create an "efficient environmental review process that ensures robust public participation and environmental protection."

CEQ said today’s action follows an April memo from the Office of Management and Budget, which revoked certain reporting requirements mandated by the previous administration.