Council on Environmental Quality Reports 98 Percent of Environmental Reviews Completed for Recovery Act Projects
WASHINGTON, DC – The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) today submitted its eighth report to Congress on how projects and activities funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 have complied to date with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. As of December 31, 2010, departments and agencies reported completing more than 98 percent of environmental reviews for Recovery Act projects, or more than 188,300 of the 188,909 required NEPA reviews.
Agencies reported on the environmental review status of more than 272,000 Recovery Act funded projects or activities, supporting more than $286 billion in Recovery Act investments.
NEPA recognizes that many Federal activities affect the environment and mandates that Federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their proposed actions. The report is an overview of the 15 Executive Branch departments and nine agencies required to report on their current NEPA status under the Recovery Act. No department or agency reported any substantial project delays related to NEPA reviews.
"NEPA harmonizes our economic and environmental goals by requiring the government to look before it leaps to ensure the safety and health of our environment and communities," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "The departments and agencies have once again shown they can take environmental impacts into account and deliver projects designed to stimulate our Nation’s economy."
Federal departments and agencies reported completing nearly 6,600 environmental assessments for Recovery Act projects and activities. Those environmental assessments provided the basis for findings of no significant impact, meaning that more intensive environmental impact statements were not required for the projects. More than 830 of the projects or activities were the subject of completed environmental impact statements, which is the most intensive NEPA review and is applied to actions that may have significant effects on the human environment. Finally, approximately 180,000 of the projects or activities fit into categories of activities that agencies previously determined, through study and experience, do not have significant individual or cumulative effects on the human environment. Departments and agencies completed categorical exclusions for these projects. These reduce unnecessary paperwork and delay and allow agencies to focus their environmental reviews and resources on actions that could have significant impacts.
The report also provides examples of instances where the environmental review process assisted Federal agencies in improving the quality of their decisions, helping to save money and energy, protect vital resources, and increase public participation.