Council on Environmental Quality Reports 99 Percent of Environmental Reviews Completed for Recovery Act Projects
WASHINGTON, DC – The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) today submitted its ninth 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 March 31st, 2011, Federal departments and agencies reported completing more than 99 percent of environmental reviews for Recovery Act projects, or more than 190,000 of the 190,694 required NEPA reviews.
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. Agencies reported on the environmental review status of more than 274,000 Recovery Act funded projects or activities, supporting more than $292 billion in Recovery Act investments.
NEPA recognizes that Federal activities can affect the environment and mandates that Federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their proposed actions. No department or agency reported any substantial project delays related to NEPA reviews.
"NEPA is designed to make sure the Federal government considers environmental goals and evaluates how its actions could impact the health and safety of our communities," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "We know that the health of our environment and the health of our economy are inextricably linked. The departments and agencies have shown they can uphold our country's environmental values and deliver projects designed to stimulate our Nation's economy."
Federal departments and agencies reported completing more than 6,800 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 182,300 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.