Thomas Catenacci on April 28, 2022
Republican Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin will introduce legislation Thursday that would reverse Biden administration environmental regulations.
The Stop NEPA Expansion Act would reinstate Trump administration reforms to the government’s permitting process for projects that receive federal funding, according to a copy of the bill shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation. President Joe Biden proposed a series of permitting restrictions under the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 20, a move criticized by experts as unnecessary and an “own goal.”
“When Trump came to office, he wanted to streamline the process — still make it effective, still make sure that we’re not cutting corners — but eliminate a lot of the bureaucracy and amount of paperwork and timeframe,” Mullin told the DCNF in an interview.
“I don’t care if you’re building a new school, I don’t care if you’re building a high-rise building or trying to put in affordable housing, much less a pipeline or a road or replace bridges,” he continued. “You have to go through the NEPA process and, underneath this new rule, it will take that project years — if it’ll ever even be permitted and most of the time it won’t — to be permitted.”
Biden’s changes to the NEPA process require federal agencies to consider the “direct,” “indirect” and “cumulative” climate impact of any proposed action or project requiring approval, the White House said. The new regulatory process would also mandate a climate change assessment of such projects, potentially adding more costs and time.
“It gives agencies vastly more discretion to either halt projects or to impose costly, unnecessary conditions on these projects,” Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Diane Katz previously told the DCNF, noting that NEPA reviews can take years and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Former President Donald Trump attempted to modernize the NEPA process by imposing strict time limits for all agencies when preparing environmental impact statements and environmental assessments for any project. The Trump reforms also gave more power to the lead federal agency assessing a project to minimize costs and delays caused by multiple agencies reviewing a single permit.
On average, the government takes between 4-5 years to complete its NEPA review of any given project, according to a 2020 study from the Department of Energy. Projects reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration took more than seven years on average, the lengthiest of any agency.
“This shows you how out of touch the entire administration is with reality,” Mullin told the DCNF. “This is why you need business people in elected offices. You have a president who has done nothing except been a career politician his entire life.”
The Oklahoma lawmaker added that he experienced first-hand how burdensome the NEPA process can be when running his construction business.
Mullin is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the co-chair of the House Energy Action Team (HEAT). The HEAT members seek to promote American energy independence and an “all-of-the-above” energy economy.
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