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Graves Leads National Effort to Modernize Permitting and Expedite Project Completions

April 14, 2021
Press Release
Legislation would expedite infrastructure projects, create jobs and stimulate economy

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) introduced today the Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays & Efficient Reviews (BUILDER) Act, which modernizes the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to make infrastructure project reviews more efficient, reduce project costs, spur economic recovery, and rebuild America.

Modernizing NEPA would help fast track Louisiana’s coastal restoration projects, transportation projects and energy infrastructure priorities – stimulating economic development and job opportunities.

“The National Environment Policy Act was enacted in 1970 to ensure the productive coexistence between the environment and the American people, but after 50 years of bureaucratic desk-jockeying, it has become an unproductive obstacle that is failing the very people and resources it is supposed to be serving. NEPA review is project purgatory, taking orders of magnitude longer to study projects than the time needed to complete them. Our bill fixes this broken approach – while protecting the environment – and updates NEPA so it can fulfill its purpose and deliver to taxpayers the infrastructure enhancements, coastal wetlands restoration, flood protection and other improvements it currently impairs,” Graves said.  

Graves’ bill is backed and cosponsored by the Ranking Members of multiple U.S. House committees and the Republican Leadership of the U.S. House. Additional quotes can be found here or below:

"President Biden claims his $2.3 trillion 'infrastructure' plan is fiscally sustainable, but as any Californian will tell you about the state’s High Speed Rail Boondoggle, the existing environmental review process has led to endless delays and outrageous cost overruns. The current system is better at building backlogs than building roads, bridges, and reservoirs. We need rational rules that are efficient, economical, and environmentally-friendly, not cumbersome, costly, and corrupt. The BUILDER Act would achieve this by codifying President Trump’s extensive reforms to National Environmental Policy Act regulations. Instead of vague and outdated regulations, these reforms set straightforward standards and enforceable deadlines without weakening environmental protections. For years, presidents of both parties have recognized the need for these reforms. President Trump made them happen, but President Biden is set to overturn this important progress. That is a big mistake. If we want to rebuild America, we need the reliable deadlines for infrastructure projects that The BUILDER Act provides." - House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

"The misleading infrastructure bill championed by the far-left and the Biden Administration leaves little room for bipartisanship or productivity. The BUILDER Act removes red tape and codifies necessary improvements to the NEPA process. This bill will shrink the bureaucratic footprint that prevents too many infrastructure projects from moving forward in a timely and cost effective manner. Congressional Republicans are dedicated to fortifying and rebuilding America's infrastructure and I am proud to cosponsor this crucial piece of legislation." - House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)

"This legislation is critical because it will streamline costly regulations that have prevented Wyoming communities from utilizing local resources to create good-paying jobs. At a time when the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats are advancing radical environmental policies that empower federal bureaucrats, prevent economic growth, and stifle energy producers, we need to be enabling local stakeholders to make vital improvements to our roads, bridges, railways, and waterways that have been stalled due to NEPA’s outdated guidelines. This commonsense bill will modernize the broken NEPA review process and allow for the kind of infrastructure projects that both parties agree we need to move forward."  - Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wy.)

"The Biden administration has proposed an aggressive infrastructure plan, and while there are many opportunities for bipartisan reform in this area, most of it is impossible without significant regulatory reform. Outdated, burdensome regulations create massive backlogs in key areas, including renewable energy development, rural broadband, transportation infrastructure and much more. The BUILDER Act would bring many of these regulations into the 21st Century, updating and streamlining them in ways that work better for the American people. This shouldn't be a partisan issue, and I look forward to moving this bill through the legislative process." - House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

“The president’s call for bipartisan action on infrastructure should start with reforming the overly lengthy and costly project review process. By approving needed infrastructure projects more efficiently, we can make our limited resources go much further while maintaining strong environmental protections. I commend Congressman Garret Graves for his leadership in this effort, and I look forward to working on bipartisan measures to rebuild our infrastructure with smart, achievable policies." - House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.)

"The BUILDER Act removes barriers to building infrastructure. It will modernize and streamline NEPA permitting processes so they are no longer lengthy, redundant, and costly. Unlike President Joe Biden’s expensive ‘infrastructure’ plan, our solution will unleash real infrastructure projects, ensure environmental protections are in place, and create more good-paying American jobs. Under the current half-century old process, environmental reviews for federal highway projects on average take over 7 years and, across the federal government, environmental reviews average 4 and a half years. It shouldn’t be that way. If President Biden and the Democrats are serious about unleashing infrastructure, bipartisan support for the BUILDER Act is a good place to start." - House Committee on Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)

Key provisions of the BUILDER Act include:

  • Ensuring rigorous environmental scrutiny for proposed actions without delays or excessive costs.
  • Ensuring practical project review timelines.
  • Clarifying duties of federal, state, tribal and local governments when conducting an environmental review and ensuring project applicants and the public are informed.
  • Establishing and clarifying the threshold determinations for preparing an environmental document under NEPA.
  • Emphasizing early coordination with stakeholders and federal agencies.
  • Eliminating vague, outdated provisions to make compliance easier.
  • Permitting a project sponsor to assist agencies in conducting environmental reviews to help speed up the process and to resolve issues.
  • Requiring agencies to make use of reliable existing data sources.
  • Requiring litigants to have participated meaningfully in the NEPA process before filing suit and provide a reasonable timeline to file those lawsuits.
  • Ensuring that, when determining whether the effects of a federal action are significant, agencies will only consider reasonably foreseeable effects with a reasonably close causal relationship to the proposed action.

About NEPA:

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. The range of actions covered by NEPA is broad and includes:

  • making decisions on permit applications,
  • adopting federal land management actions, and
  • constructing highways and other publicly-owned facilities.

Using the NEPA process, agencies evaluate the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposed actions. Agencies also provide opportunities for public review and comment on those evaluations.