The White House unveiled draft plans Thursday to ensure that federal agencies evaluate how certain energy, mining, construction, and other projects and policies will affect climate change before they move forward.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality plan is meant to guide federal agencies as they review projects under the National Environmental Policy Act, a 44-year-old law that demands analyses of the environmental footprint of various decisions and projects that require federal approval. NEPA reviews are applied to projects and actions such as federal offshore drilling lease sales, highways, construction projects, pipelines, and others.
"Federal agencies, to remain consistent with NEPA, should consider the extent to which a proposed action and its reasonable alternatives contribute to climate change through [greenhouse-gas] emissions and take into account the ways in which a changing climate over the life of the proposed project may alter the overall environmental implications of such actions," the draft plan states.
While climate change has already been considered in some federal reviews, the new plan spells out how and when greenhouse gases should be considered.The guidance encourages the most detailed climate reviews for projects that could increase greenhouse-gas emissions by 25,000 metric tons annually.