Obama Sets Guidelines for Climate Review in Agency Decisions

The Obama administration proposed guidelines that require agencies to consider climate change in reviewing of government actions, the latest of a string of environmental directives after Democrats lost control of Congress.

The Council on Environmental Quality in the White House issued the long-delayed plan for treating greenhouse-gas emissions today. It won’t exempt any individual project on the ground it won’t change overall trends of climate change.

“Diverse individual sources of emissions each make relatively small additions to global atmospheric GHG concentrations that collectively have huge impact,” according to the council’s guidance.

Following midterm elections that cost Democrats control of the Senate, President Barack Obama issued orders to protect the environmental that have drawn fire from Republicans. Obama reached a landmark deal with China to control greenhouse-gas emissions, and his Environmental Protection Agency proposed far-reaching rules for cutting down on smog. The EPA is set to issue long-delayed rules for the handling of coal ash tomorrow.

The guidance issued today would apply in required environmental reviews that federal departments and agencies conduct before they make decisions, such as approving a pipeline or rejecting a land-use plan. The guidelines may cover highway construction, government grants, coal sales from federal lands or timber leasing.

The first plan proposed in 2010 was stalled in a White House review as Republicans and industry groups warned that it could further complicate the process of getting government approvals.

The council today said projects that release emit carbon equal to the exhaust of about 5,000 automobiles would be subject to the climate review.

The administration said it would accept comments for 60 days before issuing a final version.

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