March 10, 2009
Expedited NEPA Review
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly referred to as the Stimulus Package, seeks to encourage economic growth and investment through funding of infrastructure projects, increased production of renewable energy, and improvements to the electricity transmission grid. In order to achieve maximum effect and remain eligible for stimulus funding, these projects must begin as soon as possible. However, environmental review, public participation, and alternative analysis mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its state counterparts can take years. To accelerate this process, and to rebuff attempts to exempt projects from NEPA review, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced an amendment that requires resources in the bill be devoted to expediting environmental reviews and utilizing the shortest existing applicable process under NEPA. There have also been many calls to ensure that NEPA and other environmental reviews do not delay siting of new electricity transmission lines to tie renewable energy sources into the grid.
The Environmental Law Institute hosted a free panel discussion on possible methods for, and repercussions of, expedited NEPA review. How can the NEPA review process be accelerated without sacrificing core NEPA principles? Are there ways in particular to speed transmission line reviews.
Sharon Buccino, Natural Resource Defense Council
Horst Greczmiel, Council on Environmental Quality
Thomas C. Jensen, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
Jeff Wright, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Downloads and Links:
U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution’s Advisory Committee NECRAC Report: