The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), enacted Jan. 1, 1970, requires federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of “any major project — federal, state, or local — that involves federal funding, work performed by the federal government, or permits issued by a federal agency” (Wiki). NEPA also established the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which issues guidelines to federal agencies for proper preparation of environmental impact analyses.
On December 14, 2014, CEQ published a Draft Guidance on NEPA review of project-related greenhouse gas emissions and climate change effects. Today (Mar. 25, 2015) is the deadline for submitting comments on the Guidance. On behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, 14 other pro-market organizations, and one university professor, I submitted a joint comment letter critiquing CEQ’s proposal.
In brief, we argue that:
- NEPA review is an inappropriate framework for making climate policy.
- Project-related greenhouse gas emissions should not be a factor determining whether agencies grant or deny permits for individual projects.
- Requiring agencies to consider project-related greenhouse gas emissions will make the pointless sturm und drang over the Keystone XL Pipeline the ‘new normal’ in NEPA review, further empowering NIMBY and anti-energy activists to block development projects with immense economic benefits and immeasurably small, hypothetical climate effects.
- The Guidance will feed the hubris of those who believe government exists to bankrupt businesses and industries they dislike.
- CEQ should withdraw the Guidance.
The joint comment letter is rather long and wonky but has a two-page summary highlighting key points. To read it in full, click here.