SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a comment letter to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), led by the State of Iowa, opposing the Proposed Rule for Phase Two Revisions of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The Proposed Rule was released on July 28, 2023. NEPA is the federal law that requires agencies to prepare environmental assessments and environmental impact statements for certain agency actions.
In their letter, the States argue that “the Proposed Rule increases uncertainty and imposes costs with little benefit” while “exceed[ing] CEQ’s authority…in a way that is harmful to broad and beneficial development.” Calling this action a “radical and illegal climate power grab,” the attorneys general explain that increased delays after implementation of the Rule “may cause stakeholders to experience monetary losses and force changes to project specifications, mitigation, or design.” They add that “[p]reconstruction delays for projects – whether they be for utility-scale solar or other energy infrastructure – may also impact the economy by hurting project timelines, domestic supply chains, and the jobs required to complete those projects.”
According to the attorneys general, “the Proposed Rule self-consciously acknowledges that this is a ‘broader rulemaking to revise, update, and modernize the NEPA implementing regulations.’ Among the goals and priorities embodied in the proposed rule are…ensuring climate change, environmental justice, and other environmental issues are fully accounted for in agencies’ decision-making process.” NEPA, however, is a procedural statute that is not intended to give agencies such broad powers.
Joining Utah and Iowa on the comment letter were the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.