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NEPA Streamlining: Practitioner Perspectives on Opportunities and Risks

Greg Summers, Megan Blum, Scott Blackburn, Kim Marcotte, Tom Lingan, and David Miller

Monday, May 20
Versailles Room
2:15 PM

About the Session

This session consists of a panel discussion of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) practitioners who are or have recently completed NEPA compliance projects under Executive Order 13807 and other applicable federal streamlining guidance, such as the Department of Interior Secretarial Order 3355. The session will be moderated to facilitate a discussion by the panelists on how the streamlining guidance has resulted in additional challenges for NEPA practitioners and the related implications for project proponents and federal agencies. The discussion will also address solutions that have been identified as well as the related risks and tradeoffs. The selected panel will represent a range of regional perspectives, agencies, and federal actions undergoing NEPA federal streamlining, including considerations for integration with state environmental reviews. The session will conclude with an opportunity for questions and answers by the audience.

About the Presenters

Moderator: Greg Summers, Anchor QEA

Greg Summers is a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)/Regulatory Specialist and Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS). He oversees the preparation of environmental impact statements, environmental assessments, biological assessments, biological evaluations, wetland projects of all varieties, and threatened and endangered species compliance. Mr. Summers has more than 25 years of experience working in the Pacific Northwest and extensive experience working in a variety of aquatic ecosystems including restoration, assessment, construction oversight, and monitoring. Mr. Summers has provided NEPA support on numerous complex projects on the Columbia Basin. Greg is also experienced in the interpretation and implementation of NEPA guidelines for a variety of federal agencies including the Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Rail Authority, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Federal Highway Administration. Greg's environmental impact statement management experience includes determining the level of NEPA documentation required, developing purpose and need statements, defining an adequate range of alternatives and level of technical studies needed for NEPA compliance, and cumulative impact assessment.  

Megan Blum, Federal Transit Administration

Megan Blum is the Director for the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Office of Environmental Programs. As the Director, she is responsible for FTA’s environmental policy development and streamlining efforts. She has been working in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) field for 15 years and has ensured NEPA compliance for highway, tolling, and transit projects through her various roles at the State of Maryland and FTA. Her work has included completing and reviewing all levels and aspects of NEPA documentation and supporting analyses to satisfy other environmental requirements and coordinating with partners in all levels of government, stakeholders, and the public. Prior to becoming Office Director, Ms. Blum led many environmental regulation and guidance efforts for FTA, including creating the FTA-specific Categorical Exclusions and incorporating Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act changes into policy and practice. She also served as Deputy Associate Director for NEPA at the Council on Environmental Quality from September 2016 through April 2017. Most recently, Ms. Blum has been working with other modes at the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement Executive Order 13807, including the One Federal Decision process, and also coordinates closely with colleagues at the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Railroad Administration to ensure all new policy efforts satisfy the three surface transportation programs. Ms. Blum is a proponent for smarter, more efficient environmental documents and process and is always looking for ways to improve both.

Scott Blackburn, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Scott Blackburn is National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) National Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Mr. Blackburn is a NEPA specialist, wildlife biologist, and technical communications professional with over 25 years of experience in the environmental field. He has been involved in the preparation of NEPA documents from the ground up and has served in several roles: biologist conducting wildlife surveys to inform analyses, editor managing document production, coordinator for writing and development of NEPA documents, and manager or supervisor of NEPA and environmental analysis teams. Mr. Blackburn led the development of NEPA analyses—including Environmental Impact Statements, Environmental Assessments, and Categorical Exclusions—in two other Department of the Interior bureaus before coming to the USFWS, and he has worked on NEPA in the private sector as an environmental consultant as well. As a Regional Environmental Coordinator with the National Park Service, he participated in a national NEPA practitioner workshop that informed implementation of Secretarial Order 3355, and he led implementation of NEPA streamlining requirements in the Midwest Region. He has applied NEPA in a wide variety of federal contexts and project types, including in controversial arenas such as oil and gas on the outer continental shelf off Alaska.

Kim Marcotte, Anchor, QEA


Kim Marcotte is an environmental planner with 15 years of experience leading environmental compliance efforts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), including the development of environmental impact statements, environmental assessments, and other related studies and analyses. This has included working under NEPA streamlining requirements consistent with Executive Order 13807 and Secretarial Order 3355. In her work, she often coordinates with various federal, state, and local agencies to integrate NEPA with other regulatory compliance efforts, such as the Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Clean Water Act, and other state and local requirements. She has helped complete impact assessments and develop mitigation plans for a variety of federal actions, ranging from evaluating permit requests for private proposals to considering federal expenditures to support infrastructure improvements. Ms. Marcotte has expertise in developing the framework for and overseeing various technical analyses and modeling exercises, including economic modeling, water quality modeling, air modeling, noise monitoring and modeling, rail and vessel traffic modeling, and oil spill and tsunami risk modeling. 


Tom Lingan, Venable LLP

Tom Lingan is a partner at Venable LLP and resident in their Baltimore office. A member of the firm’s Environmental Group, he represents public and private entities in all aspects of environmental litigation and compliance counseling. Mr. Lingan concentrates his practice on civil environmental litigation, environmental permitting and administrative enforcement proceedings, with a particular focus on permitting and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance for large infrastructure projects. He currently serves as principal NEPA co-counsel for the Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transportation Authority Bay Crossing Study, and other projects.

Mr. Lingan served as principal outside environmental counsel for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Baltimore City in federal consent decree negotiations involving sanitary sewer overflows and other issues relating to their sanitary waste collection systems. He is one of a few attorneys to handle such consent decree negotiations for two major jurisdictions. He has defended both public and private sector clients in citizen’s suits brought under several federal environmental statutes, including the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

David Miller, Nossaman LLP

David Miller assists clients on a variety of complex land use and environment related matters, including matters dealing with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Planning and Zoning Law, the California Subdivision Map Act, and the California Coastal Act. An Associate at Nossaman LLC, Mr. Miller has represented landowners, resource developers, and public agencies on matters involving federal and state permitting issues, local zoning issues, and environmental planning and litigation. He has also assisted with advising state and regional infrastructure authorities on environmental issues regarding large infrastructure projects.

 Mr. Miller’s experience includes counseling the Arizona Department of Transportation on environmental issues related to the 20-mile South Mountain Freeway Project and assisting with the successful defense of the Arizona Department of Transportation against NEPA and Section 4(f) challenges to the project in both the district court and Ninth Circuit. Mr. Miller also provides environmental compliance and strategy recommendations, as well as litigation support, to the Orange County Transportation Corridor Agencies on California Environmental Quality Act, NEPA, transportation planning, and related issues.