The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has made revisions to regulations that the department says will save time and money in its environmental reviews of many proposed energy projects.
The revised regulations, approved Sept. 27, focus on the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The revisions are centered on the DOE's categorical exclusion provisions and reflect the first update to these provisions in 15 years. A categorical exclusion applies to a class of actions that an agency has determined normally do not individually or cumulatively have a significant impact on the human environment.
‘Updating our NEPA rule allows us to accomplish our environmental reviews more efficiently, reduces costs to taxpayers as well as applicants for DOE permits and financial support, and focuses resources on evaluating proposals that have the potential for significant environmental impacts,’ says Acting General Counsel Sean A. Lev.
In the revised rule, the DOE has established 20 new categorical exclusions, most of which include criteria (e.g., acreage, location and height limitations) that limit the covered actions. These categorical exclusions address actions such as stormwater runoff control, alternative-fuel vehicle fueling stations and electric-vehicle charging stations, and small-scale renewable energy projects.
The new rules will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. For more information, click here.