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New NEPA Phase 2 Final Rule: EA/EIS Streamlining, Categorical Exclusions, Climate Change Impact, Global Focus, and More

Expansive Agency Review Process; Impact on Federal Project Planning and Permitting

A live 90-minute CLE video webinar with interactive Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 (in 5 days)

1:00pm-2:30pm EDT, 10:00am-11:30am PDT

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will guide practitioners through the Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Phase 2 final rule. The panel will discuss the final rule's requirements and examine how the rule streamlines the NEPA review process in some ways while expanding the scope of the process in others. The panel will discuss the final rule's impact on federal project planning and permitting and offer best practices for compliance.

Description

The CEQ recently issued the NEPA Phase 2 final rule, effective July 1, 2024, that completes a multiphase expansive rulemaking process initiated by CEQ in 2021. While the CEQ's stated goal is to improve implementation of the NEPA and enhance the efficiency of the federal project and permitting environmental review process, certain requirements increase its scope and complexity.

Areas where the rule may improve process efficiency include: (1) a one-year time limit to complete environmental assessments (EA) and two years to complete environmental impact statements (EIS); (2) a 75-page limit for EAs and a 150-page limit for EISs; and (3) the narrowing of the scope of review with a revised definition of "major federal action" to allow more projects to be excluded from NEPA review, and the allowance of agencies to develop categorical exclusions of activities not requiring an EIS.

However, the final rule adds requirements to the review process. For example, the new rule requires agencies to analyze the impact of a proposed action on climate change and on "communities with environmental justice concerns" and, where appropriate, to incorporate mitigation measures to reduce such impact. The final rule also requires agencies to consider potential global, national, regional, or local contexts when determining whether a proposed action's effects are significant.

Listen as our expert panel guides practitioners through the NEPA Phase 2 final rule's requirements. The panel will discuss how the final rule differs from the proposed rule and the impact certain requirements will have on federal project planning and permitting. The panel will also offer best practices for compliance.

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Outline

  1. Introduction:
    1. NEPA basics and history of the final rule
  2. NEPA Phase 2 final rule
    1. Streamlining the NEPA review process
      1. Definition of “major federal action”
      2. EAs and EISs
      3. Categorical exclusions
      4. Programmatic review and tiering
    2. Procedural changes
      1. Adoption of other reviews
      2. Dispute resolution and referral to CEQ
    3. Substantive changes to the NEPA review process
      1. Climate change
      2. Environmental justice
      3. Significant effects: global, national, regional, and local context
      4. Increased public engagement
      5. Other changes
  3. Compliance timeline
  4. Best practices for compliance

Benefits

The panel will review these and other important considerations:

  • How does the final rule differ from the proposed rule?
  • How does the final rule streamline the NEPA review process?
  • How does the final rule increase the scope and complexity of NEPA reviews?
  • What are best practices for navigating the final rule's requirements?

Faculty

McGrath, Kerry
Kerry L. McGrath

Partner
Hunton Andrews Kurth

Ms. McGrath has 15 years of wide-ranging experience handling novel and complex energy, environmental, and...  |  Read More

Petersen, Rafe
Rafe Petersen

Partner
Holland & Knight

Mr. Petersen's environmental practice includes environmental compliance, enforcement and litigation, with an...  |  Read More

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