What are they saying about Graves' BUILDER Act?
WASHINGTON, DC – This week U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) introduced the Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays and Efficient Reviews (BUILDER) Act, which modernizes the National Environmental Policy (NEPA) Act 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.
Here’s what Graves said:
“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’ bill is backed and cosponsored by the Ranking Members of multiple U.S. House committees and the Republican Leadership of the U.S. House. Their statements can be found here.
Stakeholders across the country are supporting this legislation, here is what some have to say:
"As modernization of our nation’s critical infrastructure gains momentum, the U.S. Chamber urges Congress to ensure any legislation provides quality infrastructure that can meet tomorrow’s demands of moving people, goods, clean energy, and information. A key part of this solution needs to be an efficient and transparent permitting process. That is why the provisions in the BUILDER Act are so important. To modernize our nation’s infrastructure, we must utilize limited investment in a more efficient way to be good stewards of public funds while continuing environmental progress. We look forward to working with bipartisan members of Congress to gain enactment of legislation that addresses these critical issues this year." – Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure, United States Chamber of Commerce
"We commend Rep. Graves for tackling this challenging issue in the BUILDER Act—legislation with process-oriented reforms to minimize unnecessary and costly delays. The bill is consistent with many of Bipartisan Policy Center recommendations to establish more predictable timelines for multiagency reviews and approvals, eliminating duplication of effort, improve coordination between agencies and with project sponsors, empower key decisionmakers, and add transparency around permitting costs and tracking. It is essential that the National Environmental Policy Act continues to give affected stakeholders and disadvantaged communities meaningful opportunities to engage in the environmental review and permitting process and inform design, siting, and other project delivery decisions. Rep. Graves’ bill seeks to strike an important balance between the careful, methodical review of environmental impacts and ensuring projects that can help stimulate our economy and advance decarbonization are able to proceed." – Bipartisan Policy Center Action
"Congressional Committee leaders’ newly-introduced legislation will provide needed enhancements to the National Environmental Policy Act. This legislation puts forth smart, coordinated improvements to environmental review processes while continuing to meet rigorous environmental standards. The Associated General Contractors of America is eager to work with members of Congress to further improve the environmental permitting process. This new bill would codify many of the positive changes to the National Environmental Policy Act that our association has long supported. These changes would help: modernize analyses and processes that too often lead to litigation that delays equity, health and environmental benefits infrastructure improvements bring to our communities; build accountability and transparency into the review process; and reduce redundancy and duplication of existing work product without jeopardizing environmental protections. Importantly, infrastructure projects will still undergo a stringent environmental review that prioritizes comprehensive and inclusive community and stakeholder input while adhering to all substantive environmental protection rules." – Jimmy Christianson, vice president of government relations, Associated General Contractors of America
"ABC applauds Representative Graves and congressional leaders for reintroducing the BUILDER Act, which will go a long way towards eliminating unnecessary delays that cause budget overruns in construction. Construction businesses recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic will surely benefit from these modifications, which will help reduce costs for hardworking taxpayers and speed up project approvals so that the U.S. workforce can get back on the job quickly and safely. The coordinated, predictable and transparent process to streamline permitting will also enable the construction industry to plan and execute even the most complex projects while safeguarding our communities, maintaining a healthy environment and stewarding public funds properly." – Kristen Swearingen, vice president of legislative and political affairs, Associated Builders and Contractors
"The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) welcomes legislative changes to the National Environmental Policy Act that would enhance the project delivery process for our clients while maintaining rigorous environmental and public interest protections. ACEC member firms employ the engineers, scientists, and environmental professionals that assist public and private project sponsors in assessing environmental impacts and navigating the other regulatory requirements of NEPA compliance. ACEC has consistently supported core mandates of NEPA and commonsense legislative and regulatory changes to generate efficiencies and improved outcomes in infrastructure project delivery. We share the stated goals of the BUILDER Act to reflect modern technologies, optimize interagency coordination, and facilitate a more efficient, effective, and timely environmental review process." – American Council of Engineering Companies
"Highway congestion costs the trucking industry $75 billion a year and wastes seven billion gallons of fuel, resulting in 67 million metric tons of excess carbon dioxide emissions. The reforms envisioned by the BUILDER Act will give state and local transportation agencies the tools they need to make the improvements necessary to prevent these job-killing losses and to move us toward environmental sustainability." – Edwin J. Gilroy, senior vice president of legislative affairs, American Trucking Associations
"Modernizing and expanding our nation’s infrastructure will require an efficient permitting system that supports timely and informed decisions that are based on merit and applied consistently. The BUILDER Act will provide more certainty to jumpstart not only the modern pipelines we need to deliver cleaner fuels, but highways and bridges. This is a commonsense and necessary step toward modernizing American infrastructure while creating good-paying jobs and advancing environmental progress." – Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, American Petroleum Institute
"NSSGA applauds the leadership of Ranking Member Westerman and Rep. Garrett Graves for their leadership to advance the BUILDER Act that will bring much needed modernization and clarity to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process– while still maintaining strong environmental protections. Once enacted, this legislation will remove unnecessary red tape and allow taxpayer dollars to be used to develop infrastructure that sustains high-paying jobs, improves our communities and advances environmental stewardship. It has been more than 40 years since a comprehensive update of the NEPA regulations has been conducted. During this time the process has created duplicative agency actions resulting in year-long delays in the permitting of infrastructure projects. We have witnessed hundreds of public works projects, which are important to the livelihoods of all Americans, be halted and delayed by unnecessary lawsuits and bureaucratic setbacks that do nothing to advance the underlaying goals of NEPA. These setbacks caused by the current process is harming our economic potential needed to help our nation recover and waste precious federal resources for critical infrastructure investment. Passage of the BUILDER Act will unleash our economic potential by allowing investments in renewable energy, clean drinking water, affordable housing, efficient transit and projects that reduce congestion and delays on our roads to finally move ahead." – Michele Stanley, vice president of government and regulatory affairs, National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association
"The BUILDER Act modernizes NEPA to expedite infrastructure projects while still maintaining rigorous environmental scrutiny. The NEPA process has slowed the most impactful and important infrastructure projects, and delays to projects means delays to the environmental and economic benefits that could improve Americans’ quality of life. Modernizing NEPA is essential if we are to transition to a clean energy economy, and we can only build new clean energy projects and reduce carbon dioxide emissions as fast as we can permit new projects. The BUILDER Act will reduce bureaucratic red tape and make the permitting process more efficient, which is prudent for the stewardship of taxpayer resources and for scaling clean energy rapidly." – Rich Powell, executive director, ClearPath Action
"Recent reforms to NEPA will unlock shovel-ready jobs while maintaining the robust environmental protections Americans depend on, and these reforms should be broadly supported. Codifying the careful NEPA modernization will bring a higher level of certainty to critical infrastructure projects, including the planned offshore wind farms up and down the Atlantic Coast. NOIA stands with Congressman Graves in ensuring that endless bureaucratic red tape and lawsuits do not return to lock away the shovel-ready jobs Americans need." – Erik Milito, president, National Ocean Industries Association
"Reforming America’s convoluted, expensive permitting process for major federal projects is a necessary piece of any serious effort to fix our crumbling infrastructure—a piece unfortunately lacking in President Biden's proposal. CRES thanks Reps. Sam Graves and Garret Graves for introducing the BUILDER Act that puts some common sense into the permitting process and brings more clean energy infrastructure projects to life without sacrificing critical environmental protections. Minimizing Washington red tape and duplicative policies promotes better environmental decisions in a cost and time-efficient manner; unlocks good-paying American clean energy jobs; and, improves our nation’s infrastructure—including natural gas pipelines, wind, solar, and hydro-electric energy projects." – Heather Reams, executive director, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions
"Freight railroads have long supported modernizing the permitting process while still maintaining critical environmental protections; the BUILDER Act does just that. For the rail industry specifically, it would help expedite routine maintenance to our world-class infrastructure and advance other critical construction projects. AAR supports the measure and thanks Rep. Graves and his colleagues for their commitment to this important issue." – Ian Jefferies, president and CEO, Association of American Railroads
"RSI supports efforts to streamline the environmental review process and ensure that NEPA achieves its original intent of facilitating environmentally responsible infrastructure investments that don’t compromise American jobs. As Congress continues to consider making new and sustained investments in our nation’s rail infrastructure, this legislation will allow us to better balance the need for thorough environmental analysis with the clarity, certainty, and expediency needed to make investments for the future." – Nicole Brewin, senior vice president of government and public affairs, Railway Supply Institute
"The National Environmental Policy Modernization Act refocuses NEPA on its original intent, to promote our nation’s most vital infrastructure projects while ensuring our shared goal of proper environmental stewardship. Creating a business and policy environment supportive of ongoing investments in our nation’s infrastructure will help strengthen our economy and create thousands of jobs during a time when this is more needed than ever. We fully support this new legislation that will reinforce a more efficient NEPA review process and create greater predictability around permitting of key U.S. infrastructure projects." – American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers
"APGA supports responsible expansion of the natural gas pipeline network through efficient and timely permitting. The BUILDER Act does just that, striking the right balance between understanding environmental impact through an updated NEPA permitting process and building the infrastructure needed to get energy to American consumers. Public natural gas utilities are grateful for the leadership from Congressman Graves in introducing this important legislation." – Dave Schryver, president and CEO, American Public Gas Association
"While NEPA is an essential tool for protecting the environment and ensuring meaningful feedback about projects, it has not been fundamentally improved in over three decades. Adversaries have weaponized NEPA’s outdated review procedures to delay – often for years – or derail numerous transportation improvement projects. The resulting delays and uncertainties can add significant costs to these important projects, at a time when funding is constrained nationwide. The BUILDER Act would codify many of the recent improvements made to NEPA by the President’s Council on Environmental Quality. These changes would produce a more expeditious, while still thorough, review process without impacting existing environmental standards. Moreover, NEPA modernization will not—and should not—guarantee favorable decisions on projects but will greatly improve the review process’ reliability and timeline, which is critical to ARTBA members and their work." – David Bauer, president and CEO, American Road and Transportation Builders Association
"The BUILDER Act seeks to codify CEQ’s NEPA updates that will create regulatory certainty and avoid burdensome delays and litigation. Large scale energy infrastructure projects require significant planning and capital investments. To reap the benefits of these infrastructure projects, the process must be clear, thorough, efficient, and consistent. Environmental reviews and public engagement are two important steps in the NEPA process. However, too often, these reviews are weaponized to kill projects across the country. This important legislation helps streamline processes to avoid these costly and project killing delays. CEA applauds Congressman Graves for continuing to push for policies and regulatory improvements that will directly benefit the lives of families and small businesses across the country. CEA strongly supports the BUILDER Act and looks forward to working with Congressional leaders to advance this legislation." – David Holt, president, Consumer Energy Alliance
"The BUILDER Act will help America benefit from pipeline projects, the perfect example of jobs creating infrastructure that delivers affordable energy reliably and with lower emissions." – Andy Black, president and CEO, Association of Oil Pipe Lines
"Congressman Graves (R-LA) and Ranking Member Westerman’s (R-AR) BUILDER Act will protect environmental reviews and public participation in the review process while modernizing and enhancing coordination between federal and state entities in the environmental review of infrastructure projects. This legislation will spur investment in critical infrastructure, create American jobs, and help protect our nation’s energy security." – Anne Bradbury, CEO, American Exploration and Production Council
"GPA Midstream Association strongly supports this common sense legislation. We also applaud Congressman Garret Graves on his efforts to advance this legislation that helps advance the modernization of American infrastructure while protecting the environment and improving transparency in the federal decision-making process." – Matthew Hite, vice president of government affairs, GPA Midstream Association
"The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), which represents thousands of oil and natural gas producers who develop over 90 percent of the nation’s oil and natural gas wells, supports Congressman Graves' BUILDER Act. This legislation will help reduce needless delays that hinder American oil and natural gas projects and badly needed infrastructure initiatives across the nation." – Dan Naatz, executive vice president, Independent Petroleum Association of America
"The essential workers who keep our roads and highways safe and smooth are committed to their jobs and their communities—as well as the environmental health of those communities. NAPA supports efforts to modernize NEPA, so infrastructure projects can get moving more quickly, more dependably, and with fewer budgetary and environmental impacts. The BUILDER Act moves us in that direction." – Audrey Copeland, president, National Asphalt Pavement Association
"For far too long, NEPA has been a tool used not for mitigating actual environmental impacts, but for stopping projects that create jobs and economic benefit for Americans. To function properly as a society, we must get a handle on NEPA to reach a reasonable balance between building infrastructure and protecting the environment. We appreciate Congressman Graves’ bill that sensibly tackles some of the most effective ways to ensure NEPA achieves its original intent of enabling decision makers to make environmentally protective decisions while disarming the use of NEPA as a weapon to simply say ‘no’ to roads, bridges, pipelines, water projects and other infrastructure. In particular, scoping NEPA to actual environmental impacts and not far-flung concerns with little connection to the project is key to ensuring NEPA can be completed in a reasonable timeframe. Also limiting obstructionist groups’ ability to come in at the eleventh hour and tie up projects indefinitely in court after failing to participate constructively in the process is something that Western Energy Alliance fully supports." – Kathleen Sgamma, president, Western Energy Alliance
"ARA strongly supports this effort to codify necessary NEPA reforms in order to help speed up the approval process for much-needed infrastructure projects for the benefit of the rural communities in which ag retailers and their customers live and work. Reforms to the NEPA rule does not compromise environmental reviews or public input, in fact these revisions to modernize the process will enhance the public's involvement through better coordination of hearings and more concise, accessible documents for review." – Richard Gupton, senior vice president of public policy and counsel, Agricultural Retailers Association
"Ranchers who hold federal grazing permits have continuously demonstrated their commitment to improving Western landscapes, safeguarding natural resources, and protecting wildlife populations. To support that continued good work, livestock producers need a more efficient NEPA review process that allows management to be responsive to immediate resource needs. Ranchers fully understand the purview of NEPA’s oversight responsibilities, but the current process can lead to years-long delays that prevent producers from completing commonsense projects like renewing their permit or participating in USDA conservation programs. The BUILDER Act will address procedural issues that hamper good land management and build on the strong land management partnership that already exists between public lands ranchers, federal agencies, and conservation groups." – Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of natural resources, National Cattlemen's Beef Association
"The BUILDER Act takes common sense measures to improve the NEPA process, which is too often abused to delay or halt vital projects. The BUILDER Act will help prevent projects from getting bogged down in unnecessary red tape and delays while ensuring environmental compliance and improving local consultation." – Jon Indall, counsel, Uranium Producers of America