Sen. Lee Introduces State Based NEPA Reform

July 23, 2020

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the NEPA State Assignment Expansion Act Thursday, a bill that would allow states to assume the regulatory burdens of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

“Utah has had an agreement with the Department of Transportation to take on all responsibility and liability for complying with NEPA for years, and it has been a huge success,” Sen. Lee said. “This legislation would bring that success to other federal agencies thus reducing regulatory burdens and delays for infrastructure projects throughout the state and the nation.”

In 1970, Congress passed NEPA to ensure federal agencies were analyzing the environmental consequences for proposed federal actions or projects. In the 50 years since NEPA’s enactment, 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.

The Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program permits all states to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation for the assignment of NEPA responsibilities for Federal highway projects. States that assume these Federal responsibilities become solely responsible and liable for carrying out these responsibilities in the place of the Federal Highway Administration.

Utah is one of seven states who have assumed this responsibility with great success, providing an opportunity for states to leverage their unique understanding of their own state to better carry out NEPA’s requirements.

This bill requires each federal agency to set up a program similar to the existing Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program so that any state may voluntarily assume the applicable agency’s NEPA responsibilities.

You can read the full text here.