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Wade Foster is an environmental attorney based in Stoel Rives' Boise office. Wade’s primary focus areas include mining, state water rights, and compliance counseling for clients subject to federal and state environmental laws.

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Introduction

On May 1, 2024, the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) promulgated the Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule (“Final Rule”), 89 Fed. Reg. 35,442 (May 1, 2024), which is better known as Phase 2 of the Biden Administration’s revisions to the regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).

NEPA imposes a procedural requirement

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a new rule concerning per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). Companies that have made or brought products containing these chemicals into the U.S. since 2011 need to report certain information to the EPA. This rule mainly affects those who make or import items that have PFAS in them.

Introduction

On July 31, 2023, the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) proposed the Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule (“Proposed Rule”), 88 Fed. Reg. 49,924 (July 31, 2023), which is better known as Phase 2 of the Biden Administration’s revisions to the regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).

NEPA imposes a procedural requirement that does not mandate outcomes, only informed decision making. Despite its procedural nature, NEPA is one of the primary mechanisms for project opponents to challenge projects and is the most litigated federal statute. CEQ describes the changes in the Proposed Rule as promoting efficient and effective environmental review while increasing regulatory certainty. Given the history of NEPA litigation, and the significant changes in the Proposed Rule, it is likely that these changes will open new pathways for litigation and require courts to interpret the changes before providing regulatory certainty.

Background Leading to the Proposed Rule

Prior to 2020, the regulations implementing NEPA, 40 C.F.R. §§ 1500-1508, had not been meaningfully updated since 1978. In 2020, CEQ finalized significant changes to the regulations, which were designed to speed up project review and limit agency discretion in considering impacts beyond the immediately proposed project. In 2021 CEQ started a phased process to revise the NEPA regulations. In April 2022, CEQ issued its Phase I Rule, 87 Fed. Reg. 23,453 (April 20, 2022), which restored the 1978 regulations’ provisions on the purpose and need statement, defined “effects of the action,” and restored agency discretion to adopt procedures beyond those contained in the CEQ regulations.Continue Reading Phase 2 NEPA Revisions: Significant Changes Proposed by CEQ in the Proposed Bipartisan Permitting Reform Rule

Consider these three statements: I experience odor or discoloration in my tap water, English is not the primary language spoken in my home, and I live near industrial activity.

Now, consider these statements: The organization that I work for can access environmental subject matter experts, the organization that I work for has influence in the