WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the NEPA Legal Reform Act Wednesday, legislation that would make it harder for special interests to delay much-needed infrastructure projects with nuisance lawsuits.
“Environmental planning is absolutely essential to sustainable growth, but unfortunately NEPA has been turned into a weapon used by special interests to delay much-needed infrastructure and maintenance projects throughout our country,” Sen. Lee said. “The NEPA Legal Reform Act is common sense policy that will reduce nuisance lawsuits, make infrastructure projects more efficient and affordable, all while preserving the necessary environmental planning process.”
Specifically, the bill would:
- Judicial Standing Requirements - Require a plaintiff bringing a NEPA related claim to demonstrate the plaintiff has personally suffered (or will likely personally suffer) a “direct, tangible harm.
- Statute of Limitations - Set a 150-day statute of limitations for all NEPA related claims beginning the day after the final agency action has been taken under the NEPA process
- Temporary Injunctive Relief Reform - Codify the elements of a preliminary injunction issued by SCOTUS in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. 555 US __ (2008) and require proof of each element by “clear and convincing” evidence; and require an additional finding of extraordinary circumstances that warrant the preliminary injunction; and require the court to consider the preliminary injunction’s effects on public health, safety, the environment, and jobs.
- Permanent Injunction Relief reform - Codify the elements of a permanent injunction issued by SCOTUS in Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 561 U.S. 139 (2010) and require proof of each element by “clear and convincing” evidence; require an additional finding of extraordinary circumstances that warrant the injunction; and require an injunction to be “as narrowly tailored as possible to correct an injury” and “the least intrusive means necessary to correct the injury.”
- Bonding Requirement - Require the court to fully apply Rule 65(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for all preliminary injunctions granted for a NEPA related action. Rule 65(c) requires a security to be posted according to what “the court considers proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.”