Recently, there have been major changes to environmental regulations regarding infrastructure projects. As with any infrastructure project, there are several things you must consider beyond simply the cost and the timeline — the impact on the environment and community must also be evaluated. In this brief article, a Miami construction mediation attorney with Cotney Construction Law shares environmental regulations to keep in mind to avoid a dispute or violations with the government.
What Regulations Are There for Environmental Impact?
Fifty years ago, the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. This act required federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of proposed projects before they are approved. It also gives the public and interest groups the ability to comment on those evaluations. This often resulted in a lot of bureaucratic red tape for simple projects, including roadway repairs and the building of pipelines.
On July 15, 2020, the Council on Environmental Equality (CEQ) issued its final rule updating the National Environmental Policy Act. As stated on the White House website, these updates are designed to “streamline the development of infrastructure projects and promote better decision making by the Federal government.” These changes removed many key environmental impact considerations and requirements with the goal of expanding and streamlining infrastructure projects. Although we won’t go into the specific changes to NEPA here, there are a few key things to keep in mind during any infrastructure project.
Environmental Impact Studies and Comments
Environmental impact studies and statements are required before beginning any infrastructure project, be it repairs to roadways or laying pipeline. However, the rule changes set a strict two-year time limit for agencies to issue environmental impact statements rather than allowing or requiring a longer look at the impacts. The new regulations also require comments to be submitted more quickly and limit the topics that can be covered in those comments.
An environmental impact statement outlines the status of the environment in the affected area, provides a baseline for understanding the potential consequences of the proposed project, identifies positive and negative effects for the environment, and offers alternative actions, including inaction, in relation to the proposed project.
Consider Resources and Waste
With the recent rollbacks, there is less of a focus on resources and waste. However, it is important to consider the energy sources, pollution, noise pollution, and waste. The construction process is a major user of non-renewable energy sources. This produces a number of pollutants and emissions for the environment. Avoid using sources like fossil fuels, and design your project around renewable energy resources (such as solar, wind turbines, etc.)
Waste is produced when mass amounts of materials are used. Waste includes leftover insulation, concrete, plastic, pipes, paint, and roofing materials, leading to an excess in landfills. To combat waste, buy sustainable building materials, make a plan for disposing of hazardous waste, and consider water conservation, especially during drought seasons.
If you are beginning a government project, it is important to follow the laws and regulations to avoid potentially costly disputes. Contact a Miami construction dispute lawyer with Cotney Construction Law to discuss the best way to protect yourself and stay ahead of any potential issues.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.