The CEQ has released a new Draft Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change.The link goes to a press release with a link to the new document (which, unfortunately, is a static document that you can’t searched or copy-and-paste from).
CEQ press release excerpt:
As part of an ongoing effort to modernize implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act and promote effective and transparent environmental reviews, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) today released updated draft guidance for Federal agencies on how to consider greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change in their NEPA analyses, as well as final guidance on conducting programmatic NEPA reviews. These measures will increase the efficiency of environmental reviews and help agencies make informed decisions that are sound investments of taxpayer dollars and good for American communities.
NEPA requires Federal agencies to consider and transparently disclose the potential effects of their actions and decisions on the environment. In many cases, Federal actions have the potential to produce greenhouse gas emissions, and also are at risk of experiencing impacts from a changing climate. The draft guidance, which will be available for 60 days of public comment, outlines how Federal agencies should describe these potential effects when conducting NEPA reviews to allow decision makers and the public to more fully understand the environmental impacts of proposed actions. In turn, agencies will be better able to compare alternatives, and consider measures to reduce the impacts of climate change on Federal resources and investments.
Excerpt from an E&E News article (subscription):
Steven Weissman, director of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law’s energy program, said it appears the guidance gives federal agencies a large amount of discretion and contributes to the impression that some effects of greenhouse gas emissions are acceptable.
Weissman pointed to CEQ’s guidance for agencies to focus on projects and actions that will release more than 25,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions on an annual basis. CEQ said a “quantitative analysis of greenhouse gas emissions is not recommended unless it is easily accomplished” for projects that emit anything below that amount.
That means smaller projects that emit less — but still contribute to climate change — may not get a close look, he said.
“Basically, they’re saying you could level over 160 acres’ worth of trees before you reach any level of significance, or burn 20 million tons of coal,” he said. “It’s all very interesting because there’s no particular number that’s magical here; this is just an effort to set a benchmark [to prevent] too much attention on projects that would have smaller effects.”