'Say, Jack, what if we used NEPA to slow down them there rising seas?'

White House
“Say, Jack, what if we used NEPA to slow down them there rising seas?”

Industries that warm the globe, take note: It might be time to freak out.

The Obama administration will soon start requiring federal agencies to consider climate change when analyzing the environmental impacts of major projects that need federal approval. This would include pipelines, highways, coal and natural-gas export facilities, and even new logging roads, if they’re on public land or subject to federal oversight.

That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that Obama will be issuing new guidance under the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the federal government to conduct environmental impact assessments for significant projects.

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The change wouldn’t mean that any project affecting the climate would be nixed, but industry lobbyists worry it could lead to more delays and lawsuits.

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The move is being welcomed by environmentalists. From Bloomberg:

“Agencies do a pretty poor job of looking at climate change impacts,” [said] Rebecca Judd, a legislative counsel at the environmental legal group Earthjustice in Washington. “A thorough guidance would help alleviate that.”

Industry reps are less enthusiastic:

“It’s got us very freaked out,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based group that represents 11,000 companies such as Exxon-Mobil Corp. and Southern Co. The standards, which constitute guidance for agencies and not new regulations, are set to be issued in the coming weeks, according to lawyers briefed by administration officials.

Well, with the weather quickly turning freaky, maybe some freakouts are long overdue.