White House Releases Draft NEPA and CEQA Integration Handbook

On March 5, 2013, the Council for Environmental Quality and the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research released NEPA and CEQA: Integrating State and Federal Environmental Reviews for public review and comment. This draft handbook explains the key differences between the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), provides a framework for agencies undertaking a joint NEPA/CEQA review to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and addresses the role of the California Energy Commission licensing process for thermal power plant projects.

The Handbook was released as a draft and is open for public comment until April 19, 2013. The environmental studies involved under NEPA and CEQA can be costly and burdensome, and the comment period provides an opportunity for companies doing business in California to tell the Handbook’s drafters where coordination is most urgently required. Private applicants for federal permits are affected by duplicative requirements because the applicants bear the costs and burdens of delay. Clients doing business in California can contact the authors or their Venable attorney about submitting comments on the draft Handbook.

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