On Monday, January 30, 2023, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Phase 2 of its proposal to revise the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules released under the prior administration. Litigation surrounding the prior administration’s rules is stayed pending CEQ’s ongoing efforts. OMB review is a necessary prerequisite before CEQ can publish any new rule in the Federal Register and follows release of Phase 1 of CEQ’s implementing rules last April, which the administration described as restoring pre-2020 requirements for agencies to assess direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of proposed actions under NEPA.
Phase 2 is expected to build upon Phase 1 and implement broader changes to CEQ’s NEPA implementation rules in accordance with President Joe Biden’s January 20, 2021, Executive Order 13990 directing agencies to consider climate change and environmental justice issues in NEPA-required project reviews. Phase 2 is also expected to include provisions intended to streamline infrastructure permitting and review processes, including those related to climate resiliency. With OMB’s typical 90-day review timeline, the Phase 2 proposal is expected to be released later this spring.