Overview of CEQ

The Council On Environmental Quality (CEQ) has led the Administration's effort to reinvent environment and natural resource programs. In this effort, the Administration is cutting paperwork, saving taxpayers money and developing new partnerships with industry, landowners and the states to provide more flexibility for the regulated community in return for better environmental results.

Congress first established CEQ within the Executive Office of the President as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Additional responsibilities were provided by the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970. The Council is headed by a Chair, George Frampton, who is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.

In enacting NEPA, Congress recognized that nearly all federal activities affect the environment in some way, and realized that before federal agencies make decisions, they must consider the effects of their actions on the quality of the human environment. NEPA assigns CEQ the task of ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act. The challenge of harmonizing our economic, environmental and social aspirations has put NEPA at the at the forefront of our nation's efforts to protect the environment.

Specific functions of CEQ include the following:

  • Advise and assist the President in the development of environmental policies and proposed legislation as requested by the President;
  • Advise the President on national and international policies relating to the environment;
  • Identify, assess, and report on trends in environmental quality and recommend appropriate response strategies;
  • Oversee federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process and act as a referee for interagency disputes regarding the adequacy of such assessments;
  • Report annually to the President on the state of the environment through preparation of the annual Environmental Quality Report;
  • Provide general support and leadership to the coordination of activities of the federal departments and agencies which affect, protect, and improve environmental quality;
  • Support and participate in the government-wide effort to reinvent environmental regulation;
  • Foster cooperation between the federal, state and local governments, the private sector and American citizens on matters of environmental concern;
  • Interpret NEPA and the CEQ regulations in response to requests from federal, state and local agencies and citizens, and;
  • Approve agency NEPA procedures and issue guidance to address systemic problems.

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