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Resolution 562 - National Environmental Policy Act


Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 26, 2020
Adopted by the Board on Direction on July 11, 2020

WHEREAS: the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was enacted on January 1, 1970 to establish a broad national framework for protecting our environment; and

WHEREAS: NEPA's primary purpose and goal is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare and preservation of the natural environment; and

WHEREAS: reducing delay in the permitting process is a critical step in helping our nation achieve an infrastructure fit for the 21st century; and

WHEREAS: the permitting reforms in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act in 2012 and the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015, including the use of a single NEPA document when possible; the designation of a lead agency for environmental reviews; and the creation of a publicly accessible dashboard to publish the status of NEPA should be implemented as quickly as possible; and

WHEREAS: civil engineers work to inform, educate and engage the public about proposed policies, plans, designs, projects, and programs and need timely and appropriate public involvement during this process; and

WHEREAS: abbreviated, arbitrary and mandated environmental impact statement (EIS) and environmental assessment (EA) completion timeframes can result in incomplete environmental evaluations and lead to litigation since some required studies may not able to be completed in order to meet such a deadline; and 

WHEREAS: the Administration's policy to designate one lead agency to develop joint schedules, a single EIS/EA and a joint record of decision for multi-agency projects when practicable, and the development of procedures to elevate delays or disputes is supported alongside the maintenance of environmental protections; and

WHEREAS: regulatory streamlining procedures for infrastructure development are warranted but not to the detriment of environmental standards; and 

WHEREAS: the federal government should continue to work with states to eliminate duplicative reviews; and

WHEREAS: the Council on Environmental Quality should examine how other environmental rating tools can be used to complement the NEPA process.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the primary purpose and goals of NEPA to protect the public health, safety, and welfare and preservation of the natural environment and believes that changes to the rules and procedures that govern the implementation of NEPA should maintain those principles as a fundamental tenant.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ASCE supports a balanced approach that streamlines the permitting and approval process for infrastructure projects but not at the expense of the environment.  

ASCE Resolution 562
First Approved 2020