- The White House's Council on Environmental Quality has released updated draft guidance for federal agencies on how to consider greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the impacts of climate change in their analysis of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
- The guidance encourages agencies to draw from their experience and expertise to determine the appropriate level and type of analysis required to comply with NEPA.
- The guidance focuses analysis on the projects and actions with the greatest impacts by providing a reference point of 25,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions on an annual basis below which a quantitative analysis of GHG emissions is not recommended unless it is easily accomplished.
The new guidance on considering climate change in NEPA reviews is part of an ongoing effort to modernize implementation of the act and advises agencies to use existing information and science when assessing proposed actions. "The guidance seeks to remove uncertainty and provide agencies with a reasoned approach as to how to describe the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from and the impacts of climate change on their proposed action," according to a White House fact sheet.
Natural Gas Intelligence reports the guidance is significant because it addresses land and resource actions, expanding on draft guidance released in 2010 but which was never finalized. The revised guidance means regulations could be read in a way that would require federal regulators to consider GHG emissions related to liquefied natural gas export proposals.
Attorney Kevin Ewing with Bracewell & Giuliani told NGI the guidance is not clear but could be read in a way that could impact the approval of LNG facilities. “We are left uncertain whether the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] is signaling its intention that upstream oil and gas impact ‘must’ or ‘should’ or ‘may’ be part of the climate change analysis that is discussed in the guidance," he said.