The USDA’s Rural Development agencies are proposing new rules to streamline and implement federal environmental review policies for programs including the RUS loans. The proposal (7 CFR Part 1970, Environmental Policies and Procedures) will affect environmental reviews by amending the environmental policies and procedures for all Rural Development programs into one regulation. While the intent of such a move is to provide greater efficiencies and performance for administering and implementing Rural Development programs, it may have significant negative consequences for electric utilities, especially G&Ts and Distribution Cooperatives. May 7 is the deadline for submitting comments to the USDA on the proposed rule. Are you prepared?
During this live 90-minute web conference on April 16, NRECA’s Government Relations Department brought together legal, regulatory, and environmental experts to explain the proposed rule to RUS borrowers (distribution co-ops and G&Ts). They also shared and discussed draft concepts for submitting comments on the proposal and solicit co-op feedback as NRECA prepares its response.
What’s at stake for co-ops? Many RUS actions, including approvals for RUS borrower financial transactions like lien accommodations and RUS consents required under loan contracts, were previously not considered major federal actions. Under new rules, as proposed, those actions could be subject to NEPA review.