GAO: Scant information exists about NEPA analyses’ costs, benefits

Little information exists about the costs and benefits of analyses required under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Government Accountability Office said. Federal agencies do not routinely track the costs, and there is no government-wide mechanism to do so, GAO investigators said they learned from officials at the US Environmental Protection Agency, White House Council on Environmental Quality, and other agencies.

“Information on the benefits of completing NEPA analyses is largely qualitative,” the Apr. 15 report continued. “According to studies and agency officials, some of the qualitative benefits of NEPA include its role in encouraging public participation and in discovering and addressing project design problems that could be more costly in the long run.”

The fact that federal agencies’ activities under NEPA are hard to separate from other required environmental analyses under federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act; executive orders; agency guidance; and state and local laws further complicates analysis of NEPA’s costs and benefits, GAO said.

“This report substantiates concerns that the federal government has no system to track time or costs associated with NEPA, which is one of the most expansive regulatory laws in the country,” US Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee’s Public Lands and Environmental Subcommittee.

NEPA is important for many reasons, but delays and problems associated with its processes are significant, he maintained. “I am also very troubled by the constant use of NEPA as a litigious weapon to halt or delay projects that wealthy special interest groups don’t like,” said Bishop, who requested the investigation.

‘Costly, hidden, duplicative’

Officials of two associations representing US oil and gas producers also responded to the report’s findings. “The NEPA process has been found to be costly, largely hidden from the public, and duplicative of other environmental legislation,” said Daniel T. Naatz, Independent Petroleum Association of America’s vice-president of federal resources and political affairs.

“This report echoes the problems America’s independent producers have encountered when dealing with a variety of agencies regarding environmental assessments, environmental impact statements, and categorical exclusions,” Naatz said, adding, “Independent producers continue to struggle to operate on federal lands and NEPA continues to be an opaque barrier for entry.”

NEPA analysis was originally designed to enable transparent disclosure of environmental and economic impacts from federal projects so that impacts could be mitigated and better decisions made, according to the Denver-based Western Energy Alliance. The 1970 law was not designed to be a means for unaccountable environmental groups to raise money while stopping social progress, it added.

“GAO confirmed what western producers have been struggling with for years: long, drawn-out NEPA analysis that prevents economic growth and job creation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, WEA vice-president of government and public affairs. “NEPA delays to proposed western oil and gas projects on public lands are holding up nearly 79,000 jobs and $17.8 billion in annual economic activity.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

BOEM publishes second final SEIS for 2008 Chukchi Sea lease sale

02/13/2015 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published a fresh supplemental environmental impact statement for a Chukchi Sea federal oil and gas sale o...

Lukoil lets contract for Uzbekistan gas processing plant

02/13/2015 Russia’s OAO Lukoil has let a contract to a consortium headed by South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd., Seoul, for the construction of its lon...

Horn Petroleum to reduce Puntland exploration program

02/13/2015 Horn Petroleum Corp., Vancouver, BC, will reduce its presence in Bosaso, Puntland (Somalia), and will “refrain from any operational activity and as...

Birol named to IEA executive director post

02/13/2015 The International Energy Agency’s governing board confirmed the appointment of Fatih Birol as the agency’s next executive director. Birol succeeds ...

Partners submit Johan Sverdrup development plan

02/13/2015 Partners Statoil ASA, Lundin Petroleum AB, Petoro, Det Norske Oljeselskap ASA, and Maersk Oil have submitted a plan for development and operation (...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil price jumps more than $2/bbl

02/13/2015 Crude oil prices on the New York market jumped by more than $2/bbl Feb. 12 to settle above $51/bbl, which analysts attributed to more oil and gas c...

Apache’s 2015 capital budget less than half of last year’s $8.5 billion

02/12/2015 Apache Corp., Houston, plans a capital budget of $3.6-4 billion in 2015, with $2.1-2.3 billion directed toward onshore North America and $1.5-1.7 b...

Alaska LNG project partners file resource reports with FERC

02/12/2015 A series of draft environmental and socioeconomic reports for the Alaska LNG project have been submitted to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commis...

Total reduces budget by 10% to $23-24 billion

02/12/2015 Total SA plans to lower its organic investments to $23-24 billion in 2015 from $26.4 billion in 2014 by reducing spending in brownfield development...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

When Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected