Let’s Update the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) As Soon As Possible (ASAP)

by S. Tom Bond on September 16, 2023

The Council on Environmental Quality administers the NEPA Process for the White House


From the Sierra Club Toolkit on NEPA Update, September 2023

On July 28, 2023, the Biden administration’s White House Council on Environmental Quality released a notice of proposed rulemaking to update rules that guide federal decision making under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

This rulemaking is part of a longer process, which was initiated last spring. It aims to undo Trump-era attacks on the bedrock environmental protection and restore certainty, efficiency, and transparency to the environmental review process by ensuring reviews fully and accurately consider the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of proposed projects and that affected communities are consulted as early as possible.

NEPA is fundamentally about informed and transparent decision-making. The statute requires federal agencies to analyze environmental impacts—and disclose those to the public—for projects those agencies approve. For many projects, NEPA offers the public its only opportunity to learn about the climate impacts of those proposals. It’s also a critical tool in the fight for environmental justice — NEPA requires federal agencies to analyze and disclose a project’s foreseeable environmental, economic, social, and public health impacts, including its disproportionate impacts on communities harmed by systemic racism.

NEPA is one of our country’s bedrock environmental laws, and is our single best tool to support a just and equitable buildout of clean energy and transition away from expensive fossil fuels that are worsening the climate crisis.

Follow the actions below and join us in taking action to urge the Biden administration to finalize the strongest possible rule as soon as possible and ensure that NEPA continues to serve as a bridge, not a barrier, to a clean economy and economic future.

Signing Up to Testify ~ CEQ has already held two hearings and will hold two additional virtual public hearings about this proposal. Below are the dates and how to RSVP for them.

1. Step One: Register with CEQ for your chosen hearing date and time:
Public Meeting #4: Thursday, September 21, 2023, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT: Register

2. Step Two: After registering, to inform the Sierra Club of your testimony date and time.

CEQ will confirm your speaking time slot by email prior to the hearing date and provide you with information for using either your computer or telephone to make a statement.

We will follow up with more resources to help you prepare your testimony soon. Additionally, you can provide written public comments here.

Tips for Your Testimony ~ Remember this formula: 1 minute = 150 words. Your 3 minute comments should not exceed 450 words. Write your comments down and practice them in front of the mirror or in front of friends and family. Remember to time yourself!

Use your comments to add the human face to the need to strengthen NEPA. Express your personal concerns about why we need a stronger NEPA. How does this impact your community? What are the health risks to you and your family/friends?


NOTICE ON SUBMITTING COMMENTS ~ If you’re unable to participate in CEQ’s virtual public hearings, you can still submit written comments to CEQ! Please visit the Sierra Club’s AddUp comment page HERE to edit our suggested comment. Deadline is September 29th.

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