White House CEQ Releases New Climate Change Guidance for Federal NEPA Reviews

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has released its final guidance for Federal agencies on how to consider the impacts of their actions on climate change in their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. The guidance was developed over the course of several years with input from members of Congress, state agencies, tribes, corporations, trade associations, and other stakeholders.  It is intended to help agencies make informed and transparent decisions about the impacts of climate change on water availability, ocean acidity, sea-level rise, ecosystem functions, energy production, agriculture and food security, air quality, and human health.

In March 2015, the USGS Advisory Committee on Water Information’s Water Resources Adaptation to Climate Change Workgroup (ACWI WRACC) in which ASDWA and a representative from the New Hampshire Drinking Water Program participate, reviewed the 2014 draft version of the guidance and provided comments that were integrated into this final version.  Some of the WRACC Workgroup’s comments that are reflected in the new guidance include:  a reference to the National Action Plan:  Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate (on page 23) as the type of interagency strategy that provides “relevant and useful information that can be considered” as agencies conduct NEPA reviews of climate change impacts on proposed projects; new language on recognizing the greenhouse gas benefits of water management practices related to wetlands and reservoirs (on page 25); and stronger language with respect to making sure that Federal actions themselves are resilience to the effects of a changing climate (on page 5, 21 and 24).

For more information and to read the guidance, visit the White House website.

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