February 25, 2021

Inside EPA Quotes Fred Wagner on CEQ Leadership and NEPA Overhaul

2 min

On February 25, 2021, Fred Wagner was quoted in Inside EPA on President Biden’s pick to run the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and how the CEQ may decide to proceed with revising or rescinding the Trump-era National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) overhaul.

According to the article, the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee announced on February 24 that it will hold a confirmation hearing for Biden’s choice to lead the CEQ, Brenda Mallory, on March 3. If there are no complications with the nomination, she could be confirmed and seated by the end of next month, says Wagner.

At the same time, the CEQ won a three-week extension to a February 24 deadline to file a substantive brief to defend the Trump administration’s controversial rule narrowing the scope of federal agencies’ NEPA reviews, after failing to convince a federal district court to put the case in abeyance for 60 days to give it time to review the issue.

The March 17 deadline should give the CEQ time to articulate at least an interim position on how it plans to proceed with either changing or completely rescinding the rule, and it is likely to be ready to move with a final determination before the judge issues a decision in the case but after Mallory arrives at the CEQ, says Wagner.

“They will absolutely signal intent,” he explains. The Department of Justice (DOJ) “will not go on record defending aspects of the rule or the process that led to the rule if the administration’s intent is to revisit it substantially.”