Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 03:46 pm

Gov. Doug Burgum today released the following statement after the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released its final rule modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations for the first time in more than 40 years.

“Modernizing our roads, pipelines, flood protection and other critical infrastructure is crucial to the safety and economic success of North Dakotans and all Americans, and such projects deserve a timely, efficient and effective environmental review. The 40-year-old NEPA process has become overly complex and time-consuming, resulting in unnecessary delays, litigation and inflated costs that ultimately fall on taxpayers,” Burgum said. “We appreciate the Trump administration and CEQ for finalizing these streamlined, common-sense rules, which will return the process to the original spirit of NEPA by ensuring timely reviews, retaining the focus on environmental stewardship and expanding public participation.”

The updated NEPA regulations stem from an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in 2017 establishing a two-year goal for completing environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects and directing the CEQ to consider revisions to modernize the regulations federal agencies use to implement NEPA. The regulations have not been comprehensively updated in over 40 years, with only one limited substantive amendment in 1986.

Since it was signed into law in 1970, the NEPA has required federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of their proposed actions before making decisions. The broad range of actions covered by NEPA includes permits, land management and construction of highways and other publicly owned facilities. As part of the NEPA process, agencies provide opportunities for public review and comment on those evaluations.