The White House said Tuesday it wants all agencies to consider climate change when conducting environmental reviews for energy projects, or anything else, that require such a review.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality issued its final guidance Tuesday, setting new standards for agencies to include climate change impacts in environmental reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
"The final guidance is another big step in the administration's effort to consider how all types of federal actions will impact climate change and identify opportunities to build climate resilience," the White House environment office said.
The decision comes after years of pressure by environmental groups and is something some agencies have been wary of. For example, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has concerns in light of its role in approving natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas export terminals, which are key to shale oil and gas producers.
The natural gas exporting industry immediately raised opposition to the White House directive, saying it creates "greater regulatory uncertainty that will hold the American LNG industry back at a time when it faces fierce competition from ... projects in other countries that are rapidly coming online," according to the Center for LNG Executive Director Charlie Riedl.
"As [the group] warned in comments filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this year, this guidance not only fails to serve NEPA's goals and purposes, but it also creates yet another arbitrary hurdle for the industry, which is already forced to navigate an unpredictable and inconsistent regulatory approval process," Riedl said.
Nevertheless, the White House guidance is not a regulation, and agencies are not legally bound to follow it.