Council on Environmental Quality Reports 99.9 Percent of Environmental Reviews Completed for Recovery Act Projects
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) today submitted its eleventh and final report to Congress on how projects and activities funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have complied to date with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. As of September 30th, 2011, Federal agencies reported completing 99.9 percent of environmental reviews for Recovery Act projects, or 192,707 of the 192,912 required NEPA reviews.
The report is an overview of the 24 Federal departments and agencies required to report on their current NEPA status under the Recovery Act. Agencies reported on the environmental review status of 275,636 Recovery Act funded projects or activities, supporting more than $300 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 ensures Federal agencies take into account the potential environmental impacts of their decisions, and that they make that information transparent to the public,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Once again, agencies are proving that growing our Nation’s economy and jobs goes hand in hand with protecting the environment and health of our communities.”
More than 184,700 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 7,100 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. Eight hundred and forty one 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.