The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is a division of the Executive Office of the President of United States. The Council coordinates federal environmental efforts in the United States and works closely with agencies and other White House offices in the development of environmental and energy policies and initiatives. One of the main functions of the Council on Environmental Quality is to develop and recommend to the President national policies to foster and promote the improvement of environmental quality to meet the conservation, social, economic, health, and other requirements and goals of the Nation. CEQ was established within the Executive Office of the President by Congress as a part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and additional responsibilities were provided by the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970.
By enacting the NEPA, Congress mandated that Federal agencies must consider the effects of their actions on the quality of human environment before making any decisions. CEQ plays a key role under the NEPA by working to balance environmental, economic, and social objectives in pursuit of NEPA’s goal of “productive harmony” between humans and the human environment.
Some of the responsibilities of CEQ include:
- reporting annually to the President on the state of the environment;
- overseeing federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process;
- acting as a referee when agencies disagree over the adequacy of such assessments;
- balancing competing positions and encouraging government-wide coordination; thereby bringing federal agencies, state and local governments, and other stakeholders together on matters relating to the environment, natural resources and energy.
Under the NEPA, CEQ bears the burden of ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act. NEPA and CEQ handle the challenges of harmonizing the economic, environmental and social aspirations involved in United States’ efforts to protect the environment. CEQ works to advance the President’s agenda through interagency working groups and coordination with other components of the Executive Offices of the President. CEQ also oversees the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, responsible for promoting sustainable environmental stewardship throughout the Federal government.
The Key Positions of the Council on Environmental Quality are:
- Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality
- Deputy Director of the Office of Environmental Quality(General Counsel)
- Associate Director for Climate Change
The Council’s Chair serves as the principal environmental policy advisor to the President. The Chair assists and advises the President in developing environmental policies and initiatives.
The present initiatives undertaken by the Council on Environmental Quality are:
- Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force,
- Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force: Interim Report,
- Recovery through Retrofit, and
- Updated Principles and Guidelines for Water and Land Related Resources Implementation Studies (P&G).