Brooke Marcus Wahlberg Comments on Environmental Impact Studies Under New NEPA Regulations
Brooke Marcus Wahlberg was quoted in the Bloomberg article, “Legal Analysts Disagree On Interior Studies Double Dipping.” The article focuses on the varying opinions of those in the legal industry regarding the legality of the Interior Department approving “more oil and gas projects using studies from earlier unrelated projects” in the post-pandemic time frame. Those in the legal industry acknowledge this is part of the White House’s larger strategy involving the June 4th executive order that asked federal agencies to use emergency provisions associated with NEPA and other laws in order to speed up infrastructure projects in the current pandemic environment.
One of the issues being debated is whether using existing environmental impact studies to justify new projects before the Interior Department is permissible. Weighing in on this, Brooke said doing so is in line with new NEPA regulations. "If you’ve already done a similar analysis, you can borrow from those documents rather than starting from scratch."
Further commenting on the issue, Brooke said, "The Executive Order may have had little impact on the status of the projects Interior identified for fast-tracking during the pandemic because many of them were already expedited. The actual new legal authority—actual streamlining that’s created as a result of this Executive Order—is fairly minor."