The federal government is trying to streamline the rules governing consideration of environmental issues on federal projects.

Last week, the White House Council for Environmental Quality issued a final rule revising how agencies implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in reviews of environmental projects and permitting applications, and the law firm Connell Foley has some insights in its latest blog post.

“Business groups believe that the final rule will streamline the project review process and prevent unneeded delay of projects,” write attorneys Christina Sartorio Ku and Agnes Antonian in the firm’s latest blog post.

In one significant change, agencies are to consider “predictable environmental trends” in their baseline analyses of the “affected environment” rather than as an effect of the action.

The final rule sets a two-year time limit to complete environmental impact statements and a one-year time limit to complete less intensive environmental assessments, which are required by NEPA. Also, the authority to approve or reject a project will rest with only one lead agency.

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