The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies (“TRB”) has released its second volume of guidance addressing risks in project delivery, including risks associated with the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). This second volume of guidance, entitled “Guidance for Managing NEPA-Related and Other Risks in Project Delivery, Volume 2: Expediting NEPA Decisions and Other Practitioner Strategies for Addressing High Risk Issues in Project Delivery,” (“Volume 2”) was submitted in March 2014 under the TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (“NCHRP”) and was published by TRB in a Web-only version last week.
The thrust of the paper is that by identifying key issues, potential controversies, the magnitude and nature of environmental and other impacts, and the project setting before significant resources have been committed to a NEPA document, transportation agencies can “right size” the level of effort, anticipate potential problems, and address potential issues. This early focus can save transportation agencies time, money and effort in complying with NEPA and other environmental laws. The paper provides guidance on how to identify and address these matters from the outset of NEPA process.
Volume 2 supplements the first volume of guidance addressing NEPA-related risks in project delivery, which was also submitted under the TRB’s NCHRP in October 2011.
Nossaman attorneys Edward Kussy, Carollyn Lobell, and David Miller were on the team that prepared this important paper. Ed Kussy was the principle author of Volume 2. Ed is former Deputy Chief Counsel at the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”), and has worked extensively with projects, policies, and laws related to NEPA during his career. Ed was one of the drafters of the FHWA’s environmental regulations and environmental streamlining strategies and worked on numerous NEPA litigations, including several cases that went to the United States Supreme Court.
The TRB’s NCHRP is a research forum that addresses issues important to state Departments of Transportation and other transportation officials, and has a substantial body of publications related to the research projects it oversees.