Vol. 29, No. 2 February 3, 2021

Federal Environmental Policy: Regulatory Freeze and Executive Orders Signal Changes

On January 20, 2021, the Biden Administration announced a Regulatory Freeze Pending Review for any rules published in the Federal Register that have not yet taken effect – including the 2021 Nationwide Permits and changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  That freeze automatically postpones implementation for at least 60 days.  The Administration also issued Executive Orders regarding the implementation of science-related policies.  Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI) will be following the news and will provide updates in Field Notes.

Executive Order 13990 on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” calls for a review of federal policy actions for consistency with Biden Administration goals for science, environmental justice, and environmental resiliency.  Policy actions under review include the Waters of the U.S. definition, the 2021 Nationwide Permits, and updates to regulations for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  This action also reinstates the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard for federally funded infrastructure in an effort to improve national resilience to current and future flood risks. (see our 2015 Field Notes article for more information)

The Memorandum on “Modernizing Regulatory Review” will have implications for policy development moving forward.  It calls for the Office of Management and Budget to improve quantification of the benefits of federal policies/regulations; requires that policies reflect current scientific and economic data and perspectives; and clarifies the role of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in reviewing policy actions and regulations. 

For questions about how these changes may impact your projects, please contact your current WSSI project manager, or send us an email.

Check out past issues in the Field Notes Archive.