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

EPA approves Magellan’s Corpus Christi splitter project

12/12/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final greenhouse gas prevention of significant deterioration construction permit to Magellan Pr...

Keyera to take majority interest in Alberta gas plant

12/12/2014 Keyera Corp., Calgary, will pay $65 million (Can.) to buy a 70.79% ownership interest in the Ricinus deep-cut gas plant in west-central Alberta.

PBF Energy, PBF Logistics make management changes

12/12/2014 Matthew Lucey, currently executive vice-president of PBF Energy Inc., will succeed Michael Gayda as the company’s president. Todd O’Malley, current...

TAEP: TPI still peaking, but ‘contraction unavoidable’ as oil prices fall

12/12/2014 The Texas Petro Index (TPI), a composite index based on a comprehensive group of upstream economic indicators released by the Texas Alliance of Ene...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil price extends slump

12/12/2014 Crude oil prices extended their slump on the New York market with a Dec. 11 settlement of less than $60/bbl for January, and prices continued downw...

US needs more data before ending crude export ban, House panel told

12/11/2014 Much more environmental impact information is needed before the US can reasonably remove crude oil export limits, a witness told a House Energy and...

BOEM raises offshore oil spill liability limit to $134 million

12/11/2014 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management increased the liability limit for oil-spill related damages from offshore operations to $134 million from ...

Rosneft, Essar sign terms of oil supply agreement

12/11/2014 OAO Rosneft and Essar Energy PLC have signed key terms of an oil supply agreement in New Delhi. Rosneft said shipments to India may begin in 2015.

Barton introduces bill to remove US crude export limits

12/11/2014

US Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced legislation that would remove US crude oil export limits that have been in place for nearly 40 years.

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


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