The Department of Energy today announced that, in response to requests from a number of parties, it has re-opened the public comment period on its proposed revisions to the Department’s NEPA rules. The public comment period will be extended three weeks and will now close on March 7, 2011.
DOE, on January 3, 2011, 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 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 on the proposed rules through March 7, 2011. Additional information is available on the NEPA Rulemaking page of the Department’s NEPA Website and on the Federal eRulemaking Portal (Docket DOE-HQ-2010-0002).