The House Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 2641, the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2013 (RAPID) by a vote of 18-9. The RAPID Act will streamline the approval process for infrastructure, energy and other construction projects. The Administration, the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and legislation adopted by a strong bipartisan majority in the 109th and 112th Congresses, recognize that the sources of delay and uncertainty in the environmental review process for new permits undermine job creation and economic growth. The RAPID Act is one of several bills that the House Judiciary Committee has introduced to reform the United States' regulatory system.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Congressman Tom Marino (R-Pa.), chief sponsor of the RAPID Act, praised today's Committee vote.
Chairman Goodlatte: "The RAPID Act is incredibly important for getting Americans back to work. This bill will encourage employers to create jobs by establishing a more transparent and efficient federal permitting process. A March 2011 study entitled Project Denied: The Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects, identified 351 projects that could generate $1.1 trillion and create 1.9 million jobs annually, which would be incredibly significant in households across the United States. With the RAPID Act, we will open opportunities for Americans to find work in this challenging economic climate while building our infrastructure for the future."
Congressman Marino: "The RAPID Act is a common-sense solution to the outdated and burdensome system currently in place for approving infrastructure and energy project permits. These projects -- which create jobs and stimulate our economy -- can be significantly delayed by endless agency objections. This bill will streamline the permitting process and get government out of the way while continuing to maintain environmental protections."
Key provisions of the RAPID Act include the following:
* Codifies concepts, definitions and established best practices from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations to ensure that the federal review and permitting process is efficient and transparent.
* Empowers lead agencies to manage environmental reviews from start to finish, including: inviting and designating participating and cooperating agencies; setting deadlines; and, identifying the range of alternatives and methodologies.
* Ensures that all relevant agencies can participate in the review--but if an agency chooses not to participate, it still must adopt the environmental document and cannot later oppose the project based on other evidence.
* Directs agencies to work concurrently to complete review in an efficient and timely manner, and only to comment on issues within their jurisdiction.
* Allows lead agencies to accept existing, relevant environmental documents, including those prepared under state laws that satisfy or exceed NEPA standards.
* Sets a 4.5 year maximum deadline to complete the review process: 18 months maximum for an Environmental Assessment and 36 months maximum for an Environmental Impact Statement.
* Establishes a 180-day statute of limitations to bring suit, for parties that participated in the public notice-and-comment process on the environmental document.