Council on Environmental Quality Reports More Than 99 Percent of Environmental Reviews Completed for Recovery Act Projects
WASHINGTON, DC – The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) today submitted its tenth 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 June 30th, 2011, Federal departments and agencies reported completing more than 99 percent of environmental reviews for Recovery Act projects, or more than 191,450 of the approximately 191,800 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 274,750 Recovery Act funded projects or activities, supporting more than $296 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 takes into account environmental and community health impacts when we make decisions," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "Federal agencies are proving yet again that safeguarding the health of our communities goes in tandem with growing our Nation’s economy and jobs."
More than 183,650 of the Recovery Act projects or activities fit into categories of activities that Federal 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. Departments and agencies reported completing more than 6,950 environmental assessments. 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.
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.