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White House Proposes NEPA Reforms to Accelerate Clean Energy and Environmental Justice
On July 28, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) made public a proposed rule, which is set to be officially published on July 31. This rule aims to fully implement and expand upon the new permitting efficiencies mandated by Congress through the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. Referred to as the Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule, it is designed to modernize and expedite environmental reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The rule also aims to promote early community engagement, accelerate the development of clean energy in the United States, enhance energy security, and advance environmental justice.
Prior to this proposed rule, the CEQ had already taken steps to clarify and reinstate fundamental safeguards for environmental reviews. Additionally, they provided guidance to agencies on how to consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, with the intention of reducing the number of projects becoming entangled in legal disputes and increasing the number of projects that are constructed correctly the first time.
Sean Gallagher, Senior Vice President of Policy for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), expressed support for the proposed rule, stating that it will facilitate quicker permitting processes for solar and transmission projects on federal lands. He emphasized the significance of such projects in enhancing America’s energy security and addressing climate change. Gallagher commended the White House for prioritizing environmental justice and community engagement in NEPA reviews and for establishing clear review deadlines to ensure projects move forward promptly.
The White House believes that these reforms will continue to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s strategy of making federal environmental reviews and permitting processes more effective, efficient, and transparent. They aim to base these processes on the best available scientific knowledge to achieve positive environmental and community outcomes, while also fostering early and meaningful public involvement.
Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, emphasized that the proposed rule is a crucial component of President Biden’s permitting reform agenda. Its goal is to accelerate the development of a clean energy future, while simultaneously reducing pollution and addressing the inequities that certain communities have experienced for an extended period.
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