Document Type


Publication Date



On December 24, 2014, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released revised draft guidance on how federal agencies should evaluate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the impacts of climate change when conducting reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The CEQ’s new guidance does not impose any new legal requirements on federal decision-makers, but it does clarify how federal agencies should consider the effects of GHG emissions and climate change in a manner consistent with their preexisting obligations under NEPA. It is significantly more detailed than the draft guidance released by CEQ in February 2010, and unlike its predecessor, it applies to all proposed federal agency actions that are subject to NEPA, including land and resource management actions. CEQ is accepting comments on the draft guidance through March 25, 2015.

The guidance directs agencies to consider the potential effects of a proposed action on climate change, using projected GHG emissions as a proxy for those effects. Consistent with its earlier guidance, CEQ identifies a reference point of 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) annually as a threshold below which a quantitative analysis of GHG emissions is not recommended unless it can be easily accomplished. However, CEQ does not specify whether agencies should consider both direct and indirect emissions when applying this benchmark.


Environmental Law | Law