Senate approves resolution against White House’s NEPA rules
Washington, D.C. – On Aug. 4, the U.S. Senate passed S.J. Res. 55, a joint resolution for Congressional disapproval, authored by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and co-sponsored by 50 senators, nullifying the final rule of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulation revisions published April 20 by the Biden administration.
Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) spoke on the Senate floor in favor of the resolution reversing burdensome permitting regulations. The resolution passed 50 yeas and 47 nays.
Senate floor discussion
“This resolution is vital to return us to a path towards quicker, more predictable environmental reviews as we seek to improve our transportation, water and energy infrastructure, reclaim our energy independence and build our domestic supply chains,” Moore Capito said. “Instead of making the environmental review process more efficient, the Biden administration has been doing everything in its power to make it much, much more difficult.”
“Environmental reviews are notorious for holding up energy and infrastructure projects for years,” she noted. “Of course, it’s important to know the environmental impacts a project will have before moving forward with construction.”
“The Biden administration is focused on making them more complicated and longer, when the status quo is already unacceptable,” Moore Capito continued.
In 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality found it took an average of four and a half years to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA. One-quarter of the 1,276 projects analyzed took more than six years to complete their EIS; the average time to complete a federal highway project EIS was more than seven years; average time for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was six years; and the length for a final EIS was 661 pages, she explained.
“Many EISs on major projects of national importance over the years have swelled to thousands of pages, running contrary to the original intent of NEPA, which is to provide transparency of federal agencies’ decision making to the American people,” she mentioned. “The previous administration tried to streamline the federal environmental review process by reforming the implementing regulations for NEPA. Now, rather than continuing to improve environmental reviews under NEPA, the Biden administration has chosen to make them more burdensome.”
In early 2022, the Biden administration rolled back key modernizations the previous administration made through its ‘phase one’ NEPA rule.
“In particular, the phase one rules expanded definition of effects to include ‘indirect’ and ‘cumulative effects’ of projects will greatly delay and even kill energy projects we sorely need right now,” Moore Capito said. “With the damaging phase one rule already in place, the Biden administration is now working on even more onerous revisions to NEPA, implementing regulations in a planned phase two proposal to be unveiled later this year.”
“If these revisions are not stopped, they will enshrine lengthier, more burdensome and even insurmountable hurdles for any infrastructure, mining, industrial or energy projects to get off the ground,” she added.
“If there isn’t overwhelming, bipartisan support for this resolution of disapproval that simply stops the permitting process from getting worse, then I don’t know how anyone could believe Senate Democrats will join us to pass meaningful legislation to make the process better,” she concluded.
The recent resolution passed by the Senate was highly supported by several agriculture industry organizations, including the Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
“For years, the NEPA process was inefficient and unreasonably costly. Bureaucratic delays held up critical transportation projects, water infrastructure and basic stewardship activities. With phase one, the administration has turned back the clock to a process they themselves recognized as broken,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “Ranchers and the lands they manage need clear, predictable and timely NEPA analysis. Thank you to Sen. Sullivan and his colleagues for listening to ranchers and rural communities.”
Passage of the resolution in the House is not clear, but PLC and its partners continue to highlight the intractability of the NEPA rule, Glover noted.
“We are hopeful the House recognize the need for a process allowing ranchers to do their important daily work which has often been delayed by inefficient NEPA,” she said.
“PLC and our partners will be working with leaders in the House to highlight the need to provide predictability for ranchers; from the range improvements providing wildlife habitat to the roads ranchers need to transport livestock, the NEPA process must not be the bottleneck to creating more stability in the American economy,” she added.
Sen. Sullivan acknowledged his appreciation for colleagues in an Aug. 4 press release.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues who supported my resolution to rescind these job-killing regulations – standing with the hard-working men and women who build America,” he said. “We all know the Biden NEPA regulations are nothing more than a delay bomb for building infrastructure in this country. Today’s vote is a win for the men and women who build things in America.”
“It’s a win for those who support building infrastructure for America in a timely fashion. It’s a win for anyone who supports unleashing American energy needed so much right now in our country. And, most importantly, it’s a win for the men and women who build this country, feed this country and grow this country,” he concluded.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments to this article to email@example.com.