The White House on Thursday revoked Trump administration guidance that sought to limit the use of "remote or speculative" environmental consequences of greenhouse gas effects on major projects like highways and pipelines.
In adopting its guidelines, the Trump administration argued that limiting the consideration of climate impacts by agencies would result in faster and more efficient environmental reviews of energy and other projects required under NEPA rules.
"A projection of a proposed action's direct and reasonably foreseeable indirect GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions may be used as a proxy for assessing potential climate effects," the Trump-era guidance said.
"Agencies are not required to quantify effects where information necessary for quantification is unavailable, not of high quality, or the complexity of identifying emissions would make quantification overly speculative," it said.
"This guidance preserves agency discretion and recognizes agencies' abilities to evaluate the facts in the NEPA review at hand and determine how GHG emissions and climate change should be taken into account, the appropriate depth and scope for meaningfully comparing alternatives, and the appropriate GHG emission quantification tools," the Obama-era guidelines said.
While the Trump-era guidelines sought to limit indirect greenhouse gas impact projections only to those that are "reasonably foreseeable," the Obama-era rules did not make this distinction.
Under the Biden administration, the CEQ is expected to prioritize the impacts of climate change.
The White House said in a statement on Thursday that it will review and “as necessary, revise and update” the Obama-era greenhouse gas impact policy.
"Responding to the climate crisis will require both significant short-term global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and net-zero global emissions by mid-century or before," Biden wrote in the order, adding that, under his administration, "the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global climate ambition to meet the climate challenge."
Actions under this policy include establishing a Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, convening climate summits, and pursuing various decarbonization policies.