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New regulation may cut the time it takes to complete EIS

On Behalf of | May 28, 2019 | Land Use

Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) are important tools that impact the progression of certain construction projects. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to use these tools to consider the impact of their projects, such as building roads and power plants, on the environment.

One of the biggest critiques of the process is the length of time it takes to complete the review. In response, President Donald Trump’s Administration recently released a proposed update to these regulations designed to cut down on the amount of time it takes to move these projects forward.

How will the proposal cut down on the time it takes to move certain projects forward?

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), a federal organization, estimates it currently takes an average of four years to complete an EIS. The Trump Administration’s proposal includes a two-year time limit for completion of an EIS while also including a requirement that a senior official sign of on documents that are longer than 300 pages. The group states the later will better ensure agencies complete their due diligence when it comes to serious environmental impacts.

Critics point out a major potential flaw in the proposal: it currently lacks any form of redress if an agency fails to meet this timeline.

Will these changes impact the private sector?

At the time, the proposed changes will not impact the private sector. The proposal is not yet a regulation and, as currently written, appears to specifically impact projects initiated by federal agencies. However, the proposals will impact those who take on federal contracts and could lead to similar initiatives that will impact the private sector. We will provide an update if such actions are proposed.