House Republicans introduce legislation to expedite infrastructure projects

Bill to modernize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to improve project efficiency

September 24, 2020 / 2 minute read
transportation review legislation

U.S. Rep. Garrett Graves (R-Louisiana), along with Republican colleagues in the House, this week introduced the Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays & Efficient Reviews (BUILDER) Act.

The goal of the bill is to modernize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to expedite infrastructure project reviews to improve efficiency, reduce project costs, spur economic recovery, and rebuild America, according to Congressman Graves's office.

If modernized, Graves says his home state of Louisiana’s coastal restoration projects, transportation projects, and energy infrastructure priorities would stand to benefit if fast tracked—stimulating economic development and job opportunities.

“Whether we are working to restore coastal wetlands or improve infrastructure, it is taking longer to conduct a NEPA review than it does to actually carry out projects," Rep. Graves said in a statement. "This delays progress and diverts money from solutions to bureaucracies. The legal red tape is not working for the environment and it is not working the people. Our legislation fixes that by updating the 50-year old law to remain focused on the goal of protecting the environment while eliminating obstacles to progress.”

The bill, which codifies many of the actions taken by the White House earlier this year, is backed by the ranking members of multiple U.S. House committees and the Republican Leadership of the U.S. House. This includes House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-Utah), and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Missouri).

Congressman Garrett Graves says the BUILDER Act includes provisions that will:

  • Ensure rigorous environmental scrutiny without undue delays or excessive costs.
  • Ensure practical project review timelines.
  • Clarify duties of Federal, State, Tribal and local governments when conducting an environmental review.
  • Establish and clarify the threshold determinations for when to prepare an environmental document under NEPA.
  • Emphasize early coordination with stakeholders and federal agencies.
  • Eliminate vague, outdated provisions to make compliance easier.
  • Permit a project sponsor to assist agencies in conducting environmental reviews to help speed up the process.
  • Require agencies to make use of reliable existing data sources and clarify that NEPA does not require undertaking new scientific and technical research to inform analyses.
  • Require potential litigants to have participated meaningfully in the NEPA process before filing suit and provide a reasonable timeline to file those lawsuits.

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SOURCE: Office of Rep. Garrett Graves

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