ADMINISTRATIONTrump Administration Proposes Significant Changes to NEPA
The Trump administration today released a plan to revamp the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 50-year-old environmental law which requires in-depth analysis of projects that could have major environmental effects, including climate change impacts. In an effort to speed federal review, the proposal would change NEPA so that federal agencies would not have to consider “cumulative effects” of a project’s impacts, raising concerns among some that the climate impacts of infrastructure projects, such as highways or oil and gas pipelines, will not be considered as part of the NEPA review. The proposal would significantly expand the use of categorical exclusions under NEPA and limit preparation of full environmental reviews when they are warranted to under two years and few than 200 pages. Under the administration’s proposal, project sponsors (including private companies) would be allowed to participate in the preparation of environmental documents, under agency supervision. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found here
. Comments will be due to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which oversees NEPA, sixty days after publication in the Federal Record, which is expected tomorrow.U.S. Department of Transportation Releases “Inclusive Design Challenge” Request for Information (RFI)
The U.S. Department of Transportation has published a Request for Information (RFI) for the Inclusive Design Challenge. “The Department will award $5 million to aid the development of innovative new solutions that increase the availability and accessibility and reduce the cost of technologies of light-duty passenger vehicles,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The Inclusive Design Challenge will solicit solutions addressing obstacles faced by persons with physical, sensory, and/or cognitive disabilities. The goal of the Inclusive Design Challenge is to inspire inclusive designs for automated vehicles (AVs) as they are developed, as well as to increase access to the conventional vehicles of today.Chao Announces Next Iteration of Automated Vehicle Guidance
In a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao outlined guidance developed with the White House on how more than 30 federal departments and agencies will promote unified federal rules on self-driving cars. This is the fourth iteration of this document (AV 4.0
) and seeks, in the absence of Congressional legislation on the matter, to unify the federal approach to the testing and implementation of AVs.Federal Railroad Administration: New Blocked Crossing Portal
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has established a new webpage
allowing the public and law enforcement to report blocked highway-rail grade crossings. Blocked crossings occur when stopped trains impede the flow of motor vehicle or pedestrian traffic at railroad tracks for extended periods of time. Communities have long dealt with the issue of blocked crossings, and FRA is now seeking broad public input to understand the scope of the problem and engage with affected parties to identify potential solutions. The new FRA Blocked Crossing website requests specific information from users reporting blocked crossings—including date, time, location, and duration. FRA will use the information collected to gain a more complete picture of the location, duration, and impact of blocked crossings.