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Republicans Applaud Trump Move To Exempt Some Projects From Environmental Reviews

Jan 9, 2020

Credit Rep. Paul Gosar / twitter.com

Commentary: Today, Members of the Western Caucus released the following statements after the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released it's proposed rule modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely environmental reviews:

"Enacted with the best intentions in mind, NEPA has been hijacked by serial litigants to halt construction on critical infrastructure projects. Under the guise of environmental protection, special interest groups have stopped new roads and bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, and even offshore wind projects dead in their tracks. Today’s announcement shows the Trump administration’s commitment to ensuring the government works better for the people. Streamlining NEPA will create a more efficient and certain time line for new projects, while ensuring we safeguard our environment for the future," said Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04).

 

"There has been nothing more detrimental to the development of transportation, clean water, and energy infrastructure than America’s broken environmental review and permitting process. Today, the Administration took another step forward in bringing logic and rationality to the federal bureaucracy. Reducing redundancies, enhancing coordination with states and tribes, clarifying ambiguous terms, and establishing time frames for the completion of paperwork is the 20/20 vision we needed. Fringe-left special interest groups will continue to scream bloody murder, but these actions by President Trump will ensure the government works better for all," said Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01).

"I applaud the Trump Administration’s decision to overhaul burdensome NEPA requirements, which for too long have delayed or restricted everything from energy development and grazing to broadband deployment in Wyoming. While originally established as a streamlined process meant to protect air and water, NEPA has devolved into a litigation tool abused by far-left environmental extremists to delay countless projects across the country. President Trump is continuing to make good on his promise to get the government off the backs of hardworking Americans by decreasing overreach and regulation," said House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (WY-At Large).

"I applaud the Council on Environmental Quality’s imminent plans to reform the broken National Environmental Policy Act.  By preparing to take this action, the Trump administration is making life easier for Americans by streamlining unnecessary and costly regulations.  This overhaul will maintain public transparency and better fulfill the needs of western states," said Chief Regulatory Reform Officer Andy Biggs (AZ-05).

"Rural communities across the West cannot afford to wait years for critical economic and infrastructure development. Streamlining NEPA permitting processes will ensure swift, thorough, and complete analysis of the environmental impacts of the renewable energy and transportation projects we need in Central Washington. I applaud the Trump Administration for taking this important step to ensure these permitting reviews are completed in a timely manner and not falling victim to bureaucratic red tape or politically-motivated litigation," said Chief Rules Officer Dan Newhouse (WA-04).

"Californians can afford to wait no longer for the government to do the forest management on its lands and the infrastructure overhauls needed to protect them from wildfires and droughts. The recent fires and power shut offs underline these needs as our constituents have suffered enough NEPA reform is a much-needed change from the current delays that prohibit forestry, water management, power line clearing and upgrades and wildfire prevention projects in my district from getting done. I applaud the Trump administration for once again cutting the red tape to protect rural communities in the West from future catastrophic disasters," said Chief Agriculture and Business Officer Doug LaMalfa (CA-01).

"If there’s one word to describe government approval processes, it’s inefficient. That’s why this plan to cut back on red tape and streamline a time-consuming process is so important. While some groups have tried to weaponize NEPA and use it as a delay tactic, that was never the intended goal. Hardworking Americans are asking for quicker, easier approvals for their projects, and these proposed changes would do just that, while maintaining the highest standards of environmental stewardship. I applaud CEQ for this plan and hope to continue working to make NEPA as efficient and workable as possible," said Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04).

"I applaud the efforts of the Trump Administration to ensure that NEPA is returned to a process that ensures infrastructure projects are mindful of the environment and not a tool of serial litigants to block all development," said Congressman Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large).

"Overhaul of NEPA is absolutely necessary. I stand with the Trump Administration in ensuring commonsense regulations protect our environment without needlessly providing ammunition to the most extreme environmentalist groups that seek to undermine any project for the sake of litigating. Timely reviews will provide certainty to companies and will expedite putting our hardworking unions to work in northern Minnesota," said Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08).

"I am pleased that the Council on Environmental Quality is updating NEPA’s outdated implementing guidance. For too long these vague directives have resulted in unnecessary project delays, frivolous litigation and job-killing federal overreach. I applaud CEQ’s work to establish strict timeframes and certainty for permittees that will help advance infrastructure projects vital to our nation’s economic growth," said Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42).

"It’s beyond frustrating to see important infrastructure projects delayed due to the federal bureaucracy. Every delay costs jobs and has a ripple effect throughout the economy. This overhaul will streamline the federal permitting process and will help our country expand, update, and rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st century," said Congressman Kelly Armstrong (ND-At Large).

"Since his first day in office, President Trump has pledged to cut bureaucratic red tape, and this overhaul of NEPA is another promise kept. While originally well-intentioned, NEPA has morphed into a vehicle for perpetual litigation, and it is just another illustration of government-imposed regulations continuing to burden hardworking Americans and the economy. In our region specifically, excessive delays have stalled critical infrastructure projects like the I-49 Inner City Connector, which has been held up in the NEPA process for nearly eight years. I applaud the Trump administration for putting the American people first by streamlining these crippling policies," said Congressman Mike Johnson (LA-04).

"For far too long burdensome and lengthy permitting and regulatory processes have slowed and even destroyed infrastructure and energy projects across Kansas. Government regulations are one of the top concerns for businesses in my district and unnecessary delays in projects hurt business owners, communities and local economies. These studies and permits are necessary for proper development, but they need to be timely and economically feasible. I applaud President Trump’s Council on Environmental Quality for its efforts to overhaul and streamline the environmental permitting process," said Congressman Roger Marshall (KS-01).

"NEPA was initially a well-intended policy, but it’s long past due for an overhaul. Too many beneficial infrastructure projects are being needlessly held up by overly bureaucratic regulations, costing taxpayers money and deferring jobs for American workers. This change would improve the environmental review process while also cutting through the red tape to ensure timely and safe construction of necessary projects like roads, bridges, and water storage facilities. I strongly support this action," said Congressman Paul Cook (CA-08).

"When I was first elected to Congress, I chaired a bipartisan task force with now Senator Tom Udall that made recommendations to update and improve NEPA. In any proposed project, we should involve stakeholders and interested parties early on and seek a more collaborative approach. The current process often results in years of delay, additional costs, and litigation. What started as a single paragraph statute in 1969 has turned into pages and pages of rules and regulations—and thousands of court cases—that slow and obstruct important projects. Thank you to the Trump administration for leading in addressing the NEPA process so we can move forward on projects that improve our forest health, develop our clean energy resources, and rebuild our aging infrastructure," said Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05).

"I applaud CEQ for continuing the Trump Administration’s efforts to implement needed streamlining to the NEPA planning processes across federal agencies. These efforts will help ensure we can implement forest management projects to reduce the threat of wildfire on our communities and improve our nation’s transportation and energy infrastructure to meet our needs into the future. Modernizing this process is long overdue and is welcome news for rural Oregon," said Congressman Greg Walden (OR-02).

"The Trump Administration’s regulatory reform agenda continues to move in the right direction. I hear from countless local governments, public utility operators, and other stakeholders who run into the same problems of red tape and bureaucratic delays. In 2014, I worked to streamline the permitting process for Army Corps of Engineer projects, a bipartisan success that makes it easier to complete water resource projects in a timely manner. Today’s announcement of reforming the NEPA process continues the great work we started in 2014 to ensure infrastructure projects are completed on-time, on-budget, and most importantly, safely," said Congressman Bob Gibbs (0H-07).

"This is big news for the hard-working men and women who grow our food, manage our forests, build our infrastructure, and produce our energy. NEPA is important for protecting the environment, but its approval process has become a bureaucratic nightmare over the years – even for the smallest projects. These steps by President Trump to streamline the NEPA process will ensure that we continue to protect the environment without hamstringing projects which benefit the American people," said Congressman Ralph Abraham (LA-05).

Background:

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released it's proposed rule modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely environmental reviews.

Signed into law in 1970, NEPA mandates federal agencies assess the environmental impacts of proposed federal actions.

President Trump's remarks on the modernization of NEPA can be watched HERE

Additional information on NEPA modernization can be found HERE.