Today, the Department of Energy issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend its regulations governing compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The proposals focus primarily on the Department’s categorical exclusion provisions, and reflect the first update to these provisions in thirteen years. The Department sought public input earlier this year to assist in the preparation of the current proposals.
These proposed changes are intended better to align the Department’s regulations with its current activities and recent experiences, and to update the provisions with respect to current technologies and regulatory requirements. According to General Counsel Scott Blake Harris, “our regulations must reflect current conditions if they are to be most effective. By updating our rules, we can both make our environmental review more efficient and better protect the environment.”
DOE proposes to establish 20 new categorical exclusions, and to remove two categorical exclusion categories, one environmental assessment category, and two environmental impact statement categories. Other proposed changes aim to clarify DOE’s existing rules.
DOE invites public comment for 45 days after the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register and announces a public hearing at the Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC, on February 4, 2011, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Additional information is available on the NEPA Rulemaking page of the Department’s NEPA Website and will be available on the Federal eRulemaking Portal (Docket DOE-HQ-2010-0002) when the Federal Register notice is published.