The United States Congress established the CEQ within the Executive Office of the President as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Additional responsibilities were provided by the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970.
The CEQ reports annually to the President on the state of the environment; oversees federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process; and acts as a referee when agencies disagree over the adequacy of such assessments.
CEQ chairman James L. Connaughton was formerly a partner at law firm Sidley Austin LLP, where he lobbyed to reduce government regulation on behalf of clients including the Aluminum Company of America and the Chemical Manufacturers Association of America.
Former CEQ chief of staff Philip Cooney, was previously a lobbyist employeed by the American Petroleum Institute. In June 2005, the New York Times published a memo internal to the CEQ which showed he had repeatedly edited government climate reports in order to play down links between emissions and global warming. Cooney, who says he had been planning to resign for two years, resigned two days after the scandal broke "to spend more time with his family. Immediately after resigning, Cooney went to work for ExxonMobil in their public affairs department.