This week, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released final guidance for Federal agencies on how to consider the impacts of their actions on climate change in their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. Following years of engagement and after receiving public comments and other feedback from members of Congress, State agencies, tribes, corporations, trade associations, and other stakeholders, the final guidance is another step to consider how all types of federal actions will impact climate change and identify opportunities to build climate resilience. In addition to providing agencies with a suggested approach as to how to describe climate change impacts of an action, the guidance:
- Advises agencies to quantify projected greenhouse gas emissions of proposed federal actions whenever the necessary tools, methodologies, and data inputs are available;
- Encourages agencies to draw on their experience and expertise to determine the appropriate level (broad, programmatic or project- or site-specific) and the extent of quantitative or qualitative analysis required to comply with NEPA;
- Counsels agencies to consider alternatives that would make the action and affected communities more resilient to the effects of a changing climate; and
- Reminds agencies to use existing information and science when assessing proposed actions.
In Cascadia, this new guidance will play out on all actions that undergo federal review from highway projects to restoration projects on national forests. It is an opportunity to utilize the large amount of quality climate science our region has to inform actions and clearly communicate the impacts of those actions to the public.