AEMA Supports CEQ’s Final NEPA Modernization Rule

The American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) applauds the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for today’s much-needed action to modernize and clarify its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations for the first time in over forty years. As one of the first environmental laws in this country, NEPA was landmark legislation, signaling the dawning of environmental awareness and the first step down the path of enacting what has become a comprehensive and effective federal and state statutory framework to protect the environment.

“Simply put, NEPA is broken. While a NEPA analysis has become ‘standard operating procedure’ for our members, it also has become increasingly more cumbersome, time consuming and expensive,” said AEMA Executive Director Mark Compton. “NEPA is no longer the planning and decision-making tool it was designed to be. Instead, it has become the tool used by obstructionist groups who oppose responsible and lawful mineral development on federal public lands. Reforming the NEPA process and creating a more efficient permitting system are critical to improving the competitiveness of the domestic mining industry, job creation, and decreasing our reliance on foreign sources of the minerals needed for our way of life and virtually every sector of our economy including infrastructure, healthcare, renewable energy, and all types of manufacturing. The final rule announced today is a positive step toward a more effective permitting system while maintaining important environmental safeguards and ensuring meaningful public involvement and participation in the NEPA process.”

Background:

The White House Council on Environmental Quality today issued a final rule to modernize its NEPA regulations, which were issued more than four decades ago. There have been more NEPA lawsuits than under any other environmental statute. Delays in reviews and decision-making can hold back the American economy, slowing the development of critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, highways, transmission lines, and energy and mineral projects, and deters future investment in projects that will enhance quality of life across the country.

CEQ’s final rule codifies important aspects of the Trump Administration’s One Federal Decision policy, including establishing a two year time limit and improving agency coordination through development by the lead agency of a joint schedule; preparation of a single EIS and joint record of decision; and procedures to elevate and resolve disputes that could lead to delays. Additionally, CEQ finalized provisions setting presumptive page limits, and for determining the appropriate level of NEPA review, ensuring timely submission of relevant information to inform decision-making, and facilitating the use of existing State, Tribal, and local studies, analyses, and environmental documents, among other things.

 

CEQ Final Rule Press Release