The Biden administration has recently reinforced the President’s environmental justice (EJ) agenda through two actions. Stakeholders who engage with the federal government should be aware of how the administration is expanding these efforts, which inform the government’s enforcement actions and review of projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
On April 6, 2023, President Joe Biden signed an executive order (EO), “Modernizing Regulatory Review,” amending President Bill Clinton’s EO 12866, which has served as the foundation for regulatory review and analysis across administrations for nearly 30 years. The following day, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued several related actions. These included proposed revisions to guidelines for benefit-cost analysis and processes for public participation in the regulatory review process.
On March 2, 2023, the Biden administration unveiled a new National Cybersecurity Strategy that includes various initiatives to protect U.S. energy infrastructure from attacks. The White House strategy comes on the heels of several high-profile attacks on U.S. substations and at a time when federal regulators have placed increased focus on the security of the U.S. energy grid.
On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a set of recommendations for broadening public engagement in the federal regulatory process and invited public input on the recommendations through March 10, 2023. The recommendations were developed in response to a commitment to support greater public engagement in the rulemaking process included in the Fifth U.S. Open Government National Action Plan released December 2022. OIRA stated that the recommendations were informed by written submissions and a public engagement session held in November 2022. Thus, OIRA’s solicitation for public input on the recommendations provides a unique opportunity for stakeholders to potentially shape future federal regulatory reform actions.
In the second quarter of 2022, the Biden administration took steps to implement the President’s whole-of-government environmental justice (EJ) strategy. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ or the Department), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency), and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) each announced initiatives to address EJ in a variety of agency functions. Additionally, the White House provided an update on funding available to disadvantaged communities. (more…)
On Friday, April 9, President Joe Biden released a $1.52 trillion fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget proposal. Referred to as the “skinny budget,” the document includes top-line figures and high-level summaries the White House will supplant with the full budget proposal later this spring. The release of the skinny budget starts the often-challenging process for Congress to pass an appropriations bill by the end of September, when the FY21 appropriations expire. (more…)
President Joe Biden unveiled the first of his two-part infrastructure proposal on Wednesday, March 31. Referred to as the American Jobs Plan, the package would provide $2.3 trillion in spending to support traditional infrastructure upgrades and activities within a new, more expansive definition of infrastructure. The plan provides $621 billion for transportation infrastructure and resiliency activities, $115 billion of which would fund repairs to roads and bridges. This also includes $174 billion in electric vehicle (EV) investments to create a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030, electrify at least 20% of school buses, and electrify the federal fleet, including the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, the proposal provides $111 billion in water infrastructure funding, which includes $45 billion to replace 100% of the nation’s lead service lines and $10 billion to monitor and remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.
On Friday, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) rescinded draft guidance published by the Trump administration in June 2019 discussing how agencies should consider greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when evaluating proposed major federal actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In that draft guidance, CEQ rescinded its 2016 Obama-era guidance and suggested that agencies may perform a more limited review of a project’s GHG emissions and impact on climate change, stating that “[a]gencies preparing NEPA analyses need not give greater consideration to potential effects from GHG emissions than to other potential effects on the human environment.” That draft guidance had further stated that agencies do not need to account for the “social cost of carbon” when quantifying the direct and reasonably foreseeable indirect greenhouse gas emissions from proposed actions.