Building that bridge or expanding that highway just became more difficult under a rigorous standard issued Tuesday by the Obama administration that will make it easier to block a wide range of projects in the name of climate change.
The final guidance broadens the National Environmental Policy Act by requiring agencies to quantify the impact of activities that require federal permits not just on the environment but also on “projected direct and indirect GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions.”
The White House described the guidance as “another big step in the administration’s effort to consider how all types of federal actions will impact climate change and identify opportunities to build climate resilience.”
The announcement comes after a six-year review process challenged by House and Senate Republicans over a host of concerns, including worries that the update could be used to impose caps on carbon emissions without congressional approval.
Republicans blasted the guidance as the latest in a flurry of President Obama’s end-of-term executive actions, led by the Clean Power Plan, arguing the guideline will further restrict economic development by weaving rules on climate change into federal regulations.
“This will result in significant new litigation exposure that will slow or block most every major activity requiring NEPA approval,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, Utah Republican. “When any emissions equals bad and bad equals denied, you can kiss energy independence goodbye.”