Sen. Lee Introduces NEPA Data Transparency and Accountability Act

July 22, 2020

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the NEPA Data Transparency and Accountability Act Wednesday, a bill that would empower Americans to know the bureaucratic costs of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by requiring each federal agency to report to Congress on their NEPA activity every year.

“What was meant to be a good-government planning process has, over 50 years, become a weapon used by those who oppose economic development to delay and prevent infrastructure projects throughout the country,” Sen. Lee said. “This legislation would allow Americans to understand the true costs of the antiquated NEPA system.”

Enacted in 1970, NEPA was designed to ensure federal agencies were analyzing the environmental consequences for proposed federal actions or projects. Over the past 50 years its process has substantially deviated from its original purpose and goals, evolving into an increasingly complex, bureaucratic process that has dramatically increased the cost and timeline to complete projects. Some studies put the average delay from NEPA alone at over five years per project.

The NEPA Data Transparency and Accountability Act would:

  • Require each Federal agency to annually report to Congress: (1) the number of categorical exclusions, environmental assessments, and environmental impact statements issued in the last fiscal year, (2) the time it took to approve such proposed actions, and (3) the number of proposed actions that are under NEPA review as of the date the report is issued.
  • Require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the CEQ to jointly develop a methodology to assess the comprehensive costs of the NEPA process and require each federal agency to adopt that methodology and report (1) the comprehensive cost of the NEPA process for each proposed action completed within the reporting period, and (2) for pending NEPA actions, the amount of money currently expended for the project and the estimated future costs to complete the analysis.

You can read the full text here.