May 10, 2018

Inside EPA quotes Fred Wagner in an article about the White House Council on Environmental Quality's measures to reform its NEPA implementing rules

2 min

Fred Wagner was quoted on May 10, 2018, in Inside EPA in an article about the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) advancing a long-anticipated measure to reform its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules. The CEQ submitted an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review.

According to the article, a May 3 notice said that the regulatory update is being done in response to the August 15, 2017, executive order signed by President Donald Trump and titled "Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environment Review and Permitting for Infrastructure," which directed CEQ to develop an initial list of actions to "enhance and modernize" the NEPA process.

In an earlier April 3 interview with Inside EPA, Wagner said the effort would allow the administration to implement some of its most important NEPA reforms, given the unlikelihood that Congress will adopt legislative reforms the Trump administration is seeking. "It is pretty clear to me the objective of the administration is to open up for discussion and revision of the existing CEQ [NEPA] regulations. It's going to happen. I don't know when they will announce it but it will be soon, and they will seek a lot of input and see if they can put a lot of what we talked about in the rules," said Wagner.

Fast forward a month later and now that the ANPR notice has been published, Wagner said that the preliminary work can be done without a CEQ chair nominee but that he would not expect anything to be finalized until a nominee is confirmed and in place. The ANPR will likely outline many of the reforms CEQ is contemplating as well as seek general input on other changes, according to Wagner.

The executive order gave CEQ five to six initiatives and the council has few staff members, with most on detail from other agencies. "It's a big burden on them, but getting out this ANPR is highest on their list because they know it will take a while to gather comments, look at them, review and put in final form is the heaviest lift," Wagner adds.