On Jan. 9, 2020, the Trump administration’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed rules that would update comprehensively the regulations promulgated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the first time in 40 years. After 40 years there is little question that the regulations could use updating and that environmental reviews can be streamlined. However, these proposed revisions go beyond seeking efficiencies and better coordination. Rather, they seek to narrow federal agencies’ NEPA obligations with a goal of expediting projects and reducing the number of actions subject to NEPA review. Whether one considers NEPA an important tool for factoring environmental considerations into decision-making, or an unnecessary and bureaucratic roadblock for critical projects, the proposed changes, if adopted in their present form, raise significant questions that will likely lead to litigation, and could add uncertainty and delay to the federal environmental review process, the opposite of the stated goal of the measures.

Read the full GT Alert.

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Photo of Zackary D. Knaub Zackary D. Knaub

Zackary D. Knaub brings deep New York government experience to his Environmental and Government Law & Policy practices. Prior to joining Greenberg Traurig, Zackary served as Interim Chief Counsel and First Assistant Counsel to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and before that, as Assistant…

Zackary D. Knaub brings deep New York government experience to his Environmental and Government Law & Policy practices. Prior to joining Greenberg Traurig, Zackary served as Interim Chief Counsel and First Assistant Counsel to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and before that, as Assistant Counsel to the Governor for Energy and the Environment. In these roles, Zackary advised Governor Cuomo and his administration on all legal issues related to executive actions, policies, and legislative initiatives. He coordinated the legal affairs and operations of over 100 State Executive Agencies, State Authorities, Public Benefit Corporations, and boards, and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Office of the Governor’s Counsel. Zackary managed the development and negotiation of major legislation and gubernatorial initiatives. He supervised negotiations of all legislation in the Governor’s annual $175 Billion state budget and managed outside counsel in litigation. His public relations experience includes advising press and operations staff on crisis management strategies and public messaging of complex legal and policy initiatives.

Zackary has also defended and prosecuted environmental and commercial cases in state and federal courts, and before administrative tribunals, arbitration panels, and mediators for a wide range of businesses in areas of law including federal and state environmental laws, intellectual property, Federal Acquisitions Regulations, employment law and policy, insurance coverage, and environmental risk management.

Photo of Steven C. Russo Steven C. Russo

Steven C. Russo chairs the firm’s New York Environmental Practice. He focuses his practice on environmental law and litigation, environmental permitting, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) review, toxic tort litigation, environmental crimes, Brownfields redevelopment, government, energy and…

Steven C. Russo chairs the firm’s New York Environmental Practice. He focuses his practice on environmental law and litigation, environmental permitting, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) review, toxic tort litigation, environmental crimes, Brownfields redevelopment, government, energy and the environmental aspects of land use and real estate law. Steven is equally experienced litigating in federal and state courts, as well as counseling his clients with regard to environmental liability risk and due diligence, permitting, Brownfields, and impact assessment and review. He also practices election and campaign finance law.
Prior to joining the firm, Steven was the Chief Legal Officer of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. There, he supervised approximately 90 attorneys in Albany, as well as the agency’s nine regional offices. He also supervised the agency’s legislative affairs department and Office of Environmental Justice. At the agency, Steven initiated a reform of the state’s environmental review regulations and assessment forms, completed the issuance of new power plant siting regulations pertaining to environmental justice and carbon emissions and revised the agency’s environmental audit policy.

Steven also serves as election law counsel to a number of New York State and federal campaigns and political parties.

Photo of Howard L. Nelson Howard L. Nelson

Howard L. Nelson has more than 30 years of regulatory and litigation experience, the majority of which has been related to energy matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), state public utility commissions, and the Court of Appeals. His litigation experience includes…

Howard L. Nelson has more than 30 years of regulatory and litigation experience, the majority of which has been related to energy matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), state public utility commissions, and the Court of Appeals. His litigation experience includes representing parties in major interstate natural gas and petroleum pipeline hearings involving complex multiparty major rate cases, and in certificate, LNG licensing, restructuring, tariff, fuel, gas quality, merger, and interconnection proceedings. He also advises clients on virtually all aspects of natural gas, including LNG, and oil pipeline regulation, including project development, the design of transportation and storage services and rates, negotiating and drafting contracts, strategic planning, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Howard has also assisted clients with due diligence investigations concerning acquisitions and financings of electric, solar and wind assets. Finally, Howard has briefed and argued several cases at the D.C. Circuit and 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Photo of Steven Barringer Steven Barringer

Steven Barringer is a member of GT’s Environmental and Government Law and Policy practice groups. Steve has a unique practice that combines substantive environmental law knowledge with deep government law and policy experience. He began his career as an attorney-adviser and Special Assistant…

Steven Barringer is a member of GT’s Environmental and Government Law and Policy practice groups. Steve has a unique practice that combines substantive environmental law knowledge with deep government law and policy experience. He began his career as an attorney-adviser and Special Assistant to the Solicitor at the Department of Interior. In private practice, Steve has represented industry clients in numerous EPA rulemakings, and defended clients in enforcement actions brought by EPA and states. He has advised companies regarding compliance with federal and state environmental laws. Steve has represented parties involved at major Superfund sites – including several of the largest Superfund sites in the United States – both in remediation settlement negotiations and cost-recovery actions. He has advised clients on international treaty obligations applicable to the transboundary movement of mercury and other hazardous wastes, and has managed local counsel examining environmental laws in Central America and Europe applicable to the transboundary movement of such wastes.