Final NEPA Rule Will Encourage Anti-Development Lawsuits Against Fossil Fuel Projects

The White House today released its final rule updating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the law governing permitting and environmental review for new federal projects.

CEI Senior Fellow Mario Loyola said:

“America’s infrastructure modernization is drowning in red tape. Policymakers of both parties know that reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act are urgently needed. Under President Trump, CEQ bent over backwards to include voices from across the political spectrum and proposed commonsense reforms to NEPA. Yet today the White House is taking a major step back towards even more costs, delays, and uncertainties. The White House is even shooting its own climate goals in the foot with this action, since this will only make it more difficult to deploy renewable energy on the scale and at the speed necessary to meet the Paris targets for carbon emissions.”

CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis said:

“The rule’s core function is to encourage climate-focused litigation against fossil-fuel infrastructure projects. It will also gin up anti-development litigation more broadly because nearly all development projects including highways, bridges, airports, port expansions, and transmission lines, will have direct or indirect impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. Any error or omission in quantifying project-related emissions can become a legal pretext for redoing the analysis, adding years to a project. Moreover, the rule as a whole will be seen for what it is—another Biden administration effort to make fossil fuel-related investments less attractive to investors and creditors.

“The chilling effects on infrastructure investment could occur very quickly. For example, anticipating the new NEPA rule, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently adopted new greenhouse gas reporting requirements for gas pipelines and LNG terminals. FERC’s new reporting requirements have ‘thrown the entire process of planning, financing, and applying for a natural gas pipeline certificate or approval for an LNG terminal into disarray,’ Commissioner James Danly testified last month.”