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Obama Administration Establishes New Mitigation Policy in Form of “Net Benefit Goal”

Obama Administration Establishes New Mitigation Policy in Form of “Net Benefit Goal”The Obama Administration circulated a memorandum on Nov. 1, 2015 that directed designated federal agencies to modify existing policies to incorporate a “net benefit goal” to reduce the impact of utilizing natural resources. The revised approach was to be adopted by the EPA; Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, and Defense; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The memorandum establishes new federal mitigation principles based on the net benefit goal. Put another way, the policy creates a “no net loss” objective when the applicable agencies utilize sensitive, scarce, or important resources, or this goal does not conflict with agency objectives and natural resource goals.

The policy will steer agencies toward zoning to limit the development of certain areas, land scale, and up-front conservation measures. The pronounced goal of the new environmental policy is to alter the approach of the federal agencies to permitting activities that impact land and water especially on land managed by the federal government.

The agencies are directed by the White House to incorporate the new net benefit objective to counteract, mitigate, and compensate for loss of natural resources. Along with this purported goal of the new policy, the Obama Administration also indicated a focus on habitat mitigation banks, up-front conservation strategies, and landscape-scale planning. Affected agencies are specifically directed to incorporate a “clear and consistent approach” to implement the mitigation goals of avoidance, compensation, and minimization.

When conducting this analysis, the memorandum advises agencies to consider information and research provided by not only government sources but also private third party sources. The agencies are given a time period to implement the new policy of 1 or 2 years from the date of release of the memorandum. If you have questions regarding environmental compliance, we invite you to contact us to schedule a free consultation with our one of our Tacoma environmental law lawyers. Call the Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess today at (253) 572-1000 or send us an email at