The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) coordinates Federal environmental efforts and works closely with agencies and other White House offices in the development of environmental policies and initiatives. CEQ was established within the Executive Office of the President by Congress as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and additional responsibilities were provided by the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970.
Through interagency working groups and coordination with other EOP components, CEQ works to advance the President’s agenda. It also balances competing positions, and encourages government-wide coordination, bringing federal agencies, state and local governments, and other stakeholders together on matters relating to the environment, natural resources and energy.
In addition, CEQ oversees the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive. The role of the Federal Environmental Executive is to promote sustainable environmental stewardship throughout the Federal government.
In addition, CEQ oversees Federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process and acts as a referee when agencies disagree over the adequacy of such assessments.
In enacting NEPA, Congress recognized that nearly all Federal activities affect the environment in some way and mandated that before Federal agencies make decisions, they must consider the effects of their actions on the quality of the human environment. Under NEPA, CEQ works to balance environmental, economic, and social objectives in pursuit of NEPA’s goal of "productive harmony" between humans and the human environment. 42 U.S.C. §4331(a).
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 and CEQ at the forefront of our nation's efforts to protect the environment.