Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 21, 2010

CEQ Issues Draft Guidance on Considering GHG Under NEPA Review

Last week, the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released for comment draft guidance on the consideration of greenhouse gases under the National Environmental Policy Act.  The public comment period is 90 days.  

In addition to comments on draft guidance document, CEQ also requests comment on land and resource management issues, including:

1. How should NEPA documents regarding long-range energy and resource management programs assess GHG emissions and climate change impacts?

2. What should be included in specific NEPA guidance for projects applicable to the federal land management agencies?

3. What should be included in specific NEPA guidance for land management planning applicable to the federal land management agencies?

4. Should CEQ recommend any particular protocols for assessing land management practices and their effect on carbon release and sequestration?

5. How should uncertainties associated with climate change projections and species and ecosystem responses be addressed in protocols for assessing land management practices?

6. How should NEPA analyses be tailored to address the beneficial effects on GHG emissions of Federal land and resource management actions?

7. Should CEQ provide guidance to agencies on determining whether GHG emissions are “significant” for NEPA purposes. At what level should GHG emissions be considered to have significant cumulative effects. In this context, commenters may wish to consider the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 524 (2007).

With respect to federal land management issues, not the subject of the current document, CEQ notes that agencies may  find useful information in the following sources:

• Renewable Energy Requirements Guidance for EPACT 2005 and EO 13423 (http://www.ofee.gov/eo/epact05_fedrenewenergyguid_final_on_web.pdf)

• EPA Climate Leaders GHG Inventory Protocols (http://www.epa.gov/climateleaders/resources/inventory-guidance.html)

Land management techniques, including changes in land use or land management strategies, lack any established Federal protocol for assessing their effect on atmospheric carbon release and sequestration at a landscape scale. Therefore, at this time, CEQ seeks public comment on this issue but has not identified any protocol that is useful and appropriate for NEPA analysis of a proposed land and resource management actions. CEQ notes that agencies may also find useful information in the following sources:

• Renewable Energy Requirements Guidance for EPACT 2005 and EO 13423 (http://www.ofee.gov/eo/epact05_fedrenewenergyguid_final_on_web.pdf  )

• EPA Climate Leaders GHG Inventory Protocols (http://www.epa.gov/climateleaders/resources/inventory-guidance.html )

A full copy of the draft guidance and instructions for comments is available at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/nepa

To download some recent articles on climate change and local land use planning, click here, here, here and here.


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