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Press Release

Obama Administration’s Final NEPA Guidance: Litigation Blueprint For Radical Special Interest Groups

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing on the impacts of the Obama Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) controversial Final Guidance for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“This Guidance is a litigation blueprint for radical special interest groups. The White House staff spent years behind closed doors creatively reimagining the most controversial aspects of the draft guidance with new adjectives and footnotes. The Final Guidance does nothing to address the extensive concerns with this illogical and dangerous policy. They keep saying this isn’t legally enforceable, but de facto enforcement through the courts has already begun,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) stated.

“This guidance, rather than help the environment, ends up hurting the everyday lives of Americans. It drives up the costs related to the permitting process endangering millions of jobs across the country. Everything from energy projects to highway maintenance to small business construction will be impacted,” Bishop continued.

CEQ issued the Final Guidance on August 2, 2016. On August 25, 2016, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility, citing the Final Guidance, filed suit in U.S. District Court charging that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did not comply with NEPA. 

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) was designed as a regulatory compliance framework for projects requiring a federal permit, but what was once a process for disclosure has become a process for preemptive decision making and endless litigation.

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) pressed CEQ's Managing Director Christy Goldfuss on how the Guidance could block or delay projects, including critical forest management activities that mitigate catastrophic wildfires and reduce related emissions.

What about the 100 million tons of carbon that went up in forest fires last year because we failed to manage our forests. Does that contribute to climate change?Westerman asked. 

The Guidance applies to all federal actions, including land and resource management activities such as forestry, transportation, energy and a host of other economic activities, all of which are now exposed to additional frivolous litigation.  

It’s not your responsibility, it’s not your authority, but you did it anyway. Once the courts use the ambiguous Guidance as a rationale it becomes de facto enforcement,” Bishop said to Goldfuss during the hearing.   

This is the fourth Full Committee oversight hearing during the 114th Congress on the Obama Administration’s abuse, selective application and outright circumvention of NEPA. At the beginning of this Congress, Chairman Bishop elevated NEPA to the Full Committee.

Click here to read full witness testimony.