WASHINGTON – Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the NEPA Accountability and Enforcement Act Thursday, a bill that would set a maximum two-year deadline for agencies to complete the NEPA process.
“The NEPA environmental review process has unfortunately become a weapon used by special interest groups to throttle much needed infrastructure investments across the country. The average time to complete an Environmental Impact Statement is over 4.5 years with more than a quarter of all reviews taking more than 6 years,” Sen Lee said. “This bill will cut through unnecessary delays and deliver better projects on time to millions of Americans that need them.”
Shot-clock on the NEPA Process
-Federal agencies would have one year to issue an Environmental Assessment (EA), Categorical Exclusion (CE), or a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
-If an EIS is necessary, the federal agency would have one more year to complete the EIS with an overall shot clock of two years for an agency to complete the NEPA process.
-If OMB determines that the head of a federal agency missed these deadlines, OMB would reduce the “account for salaries and expenses of the office of the head of the Federal agency” by 0.5% for each violation with additional 0.5% reductions taking place every additional 90 days thereafter until the process is completed.
Shot-clock on Project Permits
-Would require a federal agency to approve or deny any permit or authorization for a project within 90 days of completion of the project’s NEPA process. If the agency fails to act within 90 days, the permit would be deemed approved.
-Agencies would provide all denials with (1) evidence for the denial, (2) recommendations for corrections, and (3) an opportunity to correct the violation without having to undertake the NEPA process again.
You can read a full text of the bill here.