October 25, 2018

E&E News quotes Fred Wagner on the White House discontinuance of letter grades for NEPA reviews

1 min

On October 25, 2018, Fred Wagner was quoted in E&E News on how the EPA will no longer issue letter grades in its reviews of environmental permitting documents.

According to the article, the Reagan-era grading system for drafting environmental impact statements (EISs) issued under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will no longer be used by the EPA. The change has long been anticipated and sought by industry officials and groups, but is worrisome to environmentalists.

Section 309 of the Clean Air Act gives EPA the power to review other agencies’ draft EISs, an authority that the White House has proposed to eliminate as part of its infrastructure plan released earlier this year.

The tweaks to EPA's Section 309 reviews are a commonsense fix to what had become "an antiquated procedure," said Mr. Wagner.

Wagner said that in his experience, the vast majority of documents got a grade of "EC," for "environmental concerns." Agencies would then go in and make changes or add explanations to the document, which will still happen under the new guidance.

"In short, the grades themselves had become meaningless," Wagner said. "I've been mentioning this to people for over 10, almost 15 years."