As the United States continues its roaring ramp up as the world’s leading natural gas producer, the environmental community is trying to force the federal government to account for the aggregate impact of domestic natural gas production from shale, especially in the context of climate change. To achieve this goal, environmental organizations have sought to employ the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law aimed at increasing government awareness of the broader environmental consequences of federal action. This article explores the two ways in which environmental organizations have tried to expand federal environmental reviews to include climate change considerations under NEPA: litigation and federal agency guidance. Environmental organizations are concurrently pursuing a regulatory option, arguing that the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), responsible for implementing NEPA, should issue guidance requiring federal agencies to consider the climate change effects of proposed actions. This article also considers how an expanded federal environmental review could affect industry in the United States if environmental organizations achieve their goal of expanding NEPA requirements either through litigation or federal agency guidance.



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