The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has just finalized formal guidance that narrows federal agencies' usage of "categorical exclusions" (CEs) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  It becomes effective immediately upon CEQ's publishing of it.

CEs (or CATX) permit recognized types of actions with insignificant environmental effects to go forward on an expedited basis.  They are an important tool for entities involved in energy and minerals exploration and production projects on federal lands.  Environmentalists have long opposed CEs and have sought enhanced tools to strictly limit their use.

This is the first of three sets of NEPA-related guidance CEQ plans to release.  The other two are even more controversial, as they deal with evaluation of climate change impacts under the Act.

Click here to view the CE Guidance.