Congressman Dennis Ross (FL-12) today introduced the Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act (HR 4377) to create jobs by streamlining the federal permitting process.
Upon introducing this legislation, Congressman Ross said, "I've heard from many small business owners, manufacturers, miners, and farmers in my district who are ready to break ground and put our fellow citizens back to work but can't because of constant delays and red-tape. Federal permitting should be efficient and informed. Small business owners, manufacturers, miners, farmers, and all job creators need certainty in the regulatory process. In addition, groups and individuals with environmental concerns should be partners in the process, not last -minute impediments to approved projects. And the legal process must remain open to those who make good faith efforts to resolve differences during the approval process, not to those who just want to abuse the justice system as a delaying tactic."
Among other reforms, the RAPID Act:
Sets a 4.5 year-maximum deadline to complete the review process, including an 18 month maximum for the Environmental Assessment and 36 month maximum for an Environmental Impact Statement
Establishes a 180-day statute of limitations and a "get in or get out" rule that requires interested parties to comment and involve themselves early on in the process to maintain standing to bring a lawsuit later
Allows lead agencies to accept existing relevant environmental documents, including those prepared under state laws that satisfy or exceed National Environmental Policy Act standards
Adopts established concepts, definitions and best practices to ensure that the federal review and permitting process is efficient and transparent
Ross concluded, "I'm honored to have the support of Chairman Lamar Smith of the full Judiciary Committee as well as Chairman Howard Coble of the Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law, on which I am honored to serve. Chairmen Smith and Coble are dedicated to the economic well being of their constituents and I look forward to working with them, and our friends on the other side of the aisle, to bring this common sense reform to the floor."
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires agencies to analyze "major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." There are no time limits on the process, which can take many years--especially if agencies are recalcitrant or if politics take precedence. Additionally, the statute of limitations to challenge in court an agency's environmental review is six years. These sources of delay and uncertainty undermine job creation and economic growth.
Dennis Ross, son of Bill and Loyola Ross, was born in 1959 and raised in Lakeland, Florida. He graduated from Auburn University and the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He has served as in-house counsel to the Walt Disney Company and as an associate of the law firm of Holland & Knight. He previously served in the Florida Legislature from 2000 until being term limited in 2008. Dennis and his wife, Cindy Hartley, were married in 1983 and have two sons, Shane and Travis.
In the 112th Congress, Dennis serves on the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform (Chairman of the Federal Workforce, Postal Service & Labor Policy Subcommittee) as well as the Education & the Workforce and Judiciary Committees.