Guest author Darrin Gambelin, a Downey Brand associate, contributes today’s post.
On August 1, The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued its Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews (Guidance), which provides federal agencies with a framework for analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in connection with environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This is a significant step in the developing law of climate impact analysis, as state and federal agencies alike continue to struggle to measure, analyze, and mitigate for localized, incremental contributions to this global problem.
The Guidance advises federal agencies to examine both the effects of the proposed project on climate change and the effects of climate change on the project. The guidance does not apply retroactively to projects with a completed NEPA review, but CEQ encourages agencies to adopt these procedures for projects currently under review. As guidance, the policies within are not binding, but in practice agencies generally defer to CEQ; so, applicants can expect federal agencies to apply the new policies to projects moving forward.