Coalition Letter on CEQ’s Interim Final Rule, “Deadline for Agencies to Propose Updates to National Environmental Policy Act Procedures”

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Dear Ms. Coyle:
The undersigned organizations appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) June 29, 2021, interim final rule, “Deadline for Agencies to Propose Updates to National Environmental Policy Act Procedures,” (the “Delay Rule”).1 We support the environmental stewardship goals of NEPA and are concerned that the Delay Rule will create confusion and uncertainty and ultimately lead to further delays in agency decisionmaking, associated infrastructure construction, and economic development for the Nation and communities that need it most.

By delaying by two years the date by which agencies will be required to propose updates to their NEPA implementing procedures, CEQ is adding considerable uncertainty and delay to federal agency decision-making and private sector investment. The 2020 Rule2 is the current law that agencies are legally required to follow, but CEQ’s statements in the Delay Rule — including the statement that the agency “has substantial concerns about the legality of the 2020 Rule,” “the process that produced the rule,” and “the severity of CEQ’s concerns, and the likelihood that CEQ will propose significant amendments to the 2020 Rule” — all create ambiguity in what is now required for NEPA review.