Yesterday, the Council of Environmental Quality announced its final rule modernizing its regulations to streamline the development of infrastructure projects and promote better decision making by the Federal government. The National Environmental Policy Act requirements apply to a broad range of actions affecting the daily lives of Americans across the country. From the construction of roads, bridges, highways, transmission lines, conventional and renewable energy projects, broadband deployment, and water infrastructure to management of activities on Federal lands, such as grazing, forest management, and wildfire protection to environmental restoration and other projects.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council celebrated the landmark improvements to environmental policy through finalization of the Trump Administration’s rulemaking on the National Environmental Policy Act.
“The modernized NEPA rule brings common sense back to an important rule that was established to protect our land and water resources,” said NCBA President Marty Smith. “President Trump and his team at the Council on Environmental Quality embraced a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure this country has the strongest possible environmental policy for years to come. They deserve an abundance of thanks. American ranchers that care for hundreds of millions of acres of private and public lands across the United States know the importance of implementing timely improvements based on the best knowledge at hand. These changes ensure NEPA does not delay good management practices.”
“The process updates to NEPA are celebrated across the West,” said PLC President Bob Skinner. “Over the last four decades, ranchers learned and adapted to new needs of wildlife and other rangeland users, but outdated NEPA policy prevented us from responding to many critical situations. The changes finalized today bring NEPA up to date, focus the attention on the real issues at hand, and ensure the government is avoiding speculative and duplicative environmental reviews. Thank you to the Trump Administration for engaging and listening to stakeholders on the ground.”
The updated NEPA rule does not change the substantive NEPA law, but rather, improves the management, interpretation, and engagement of NEPA processes. This includes establishing presumptive time limits of two years for environmental impact statements and one year for environmental assessments, codifying relevant case law and determining appropriate levels of environmental review, expanding outreach and utilized technologies, and ensuring meaningful and effective environmental reviews.
The Fertilizer Institute also applauded the finalization of updates to NEPA, as the revisions will ensure federal regulations continue to protect the environment without causing unnecessary negative impact to the business community.
“NEPA has not been updated in 40 years, and TFI has been supportive of these long overdue changes that improve efficiency of the permitting process and ensure continued environmental protection,” said TFI President & CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “Our industry is focused on providing crop nutrients in a way that ensures farmer profitability and minimizes environmental impact so that we can feed a growing world. To do that we also need to grow, and we need the stability and certainty of a regulatory framework that allows us to do so.”