White House Announces NEPA MOU

Eleven federal agencies and the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at streamlining the environmental review of major infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The MOU sets forth an agreement among the agencies to:

  • Complete all environmental reviews and authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects within 2 years;
  • Adopt a One Federal Decision framework;
  • Actively communicate with other reviewing agencies to identify concerns, raise potential issues early in the review process, and identify solutions;
  • Carry out environmental reviews and authorizations concurrently;
  • Meet project milestones;
  • Continue to improve the NEPA review process and amend NEPA implementing procedures where appropriate; and
  • (if applicable) Participate in FERC review as a cooperating agency.

The MOU also provides a process for determining lead and cooperating agencies, and delimits the responsibilities of each agency. To enhance the streamlining process, the MOU includes measures for developing permitting timetables and conducting preliminary project planning.

The MOU reflects the President’s directive in Executive Order 13807 to improve the environmental review of major infrastructure projects. If it works as designed, it should provide proponents of major infrastructure projects with greater certainty regarding the review and approval process under NEPA.