White House May Expand NEPA to Cover Climate Effects

The Obama administration is prepared to direct federal agencies to consider global warming implications before they take major action as part of a new order that would expand the 40-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

"[Federal agencies] should think about both the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, and the effects of climate change, on decisions they make," said Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The new order would expand the scope of NEPA and open up more exacting review of proposed government projects. Conservation groups say the move could spur agencies to take stronger action to fight carbon pollution and slow global warming.

As currently constituted, NEPA "requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions."

Published: January 5, 2010