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Mr. MARINO. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, the American historical record has always been ``the worse the recession, the stronger the recovery.'' However, although the National Bureau of Economic Research states the recession ended 5 years ago, we can agree the recovery has been anything but strong.
Facts are something this administration fights with vehement opposition. Nevertheless, the simple fact is this is the slowest ``recovery'' our country has witnessed since the Truman Presidency.
After the deep recession that began in December of 2007, employment has risen sluggishly, at best, and has risen much more slowly than in the last four recoveries, for certain. According to the CBO, employment at the end of 2013 was about 6 million jobs short of where it would be if the unemployment rate had returned to its pre-recession level.
This is why I have introduced H.R. 2641, the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2013, also known as the RAPID Act.
The RAPID Act creates a streamlined Federal environmental review and permitting process that establishes transparency and certainty for job creators. Furthermore, this bill would empower lead agencies to manage environmental reviews from start to finish, as well as establish time constraints on the review process and period in which a claim can be filed.
A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce identified 351 State-level projects that, if approved for construction, could have created 1.9 million jobs annually during the projected 7 years of construction. While these numbers help put the issue in perspective, I don't need to see a study to know that bureaucracy is holding up projects and preventing job growth. I see it every day in my district.
For example, one of my constituents, PPL Corporation, filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to build and operate a state-of-the-art nuclear plant near the company's existing two-unit Susquehanna nuclear power plant. The plant would produce 1,600 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1 million homes. PPL predicted this one project would create 400 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs.
In addition, early estimates by PPL were that the project would cost $15 billion to construct. These estimates include escalation, financing costs, initial nuclear fuel, and contingencies and reserves.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, the positive impact of a $15 billion investment in my district in Pennsylvania, the 10th Congressional District.
However, Washington bureaucrats have prevented this project from creating jobs, and it has yet to break ground. Six years after the application was first filed in 2008, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission claims they are still reviewing the company's request for a combined operating license. If these individuals that are reviewing this after 6 years were working in private industry, they would have been fired in the first year. In fact, PPL says, realistically, a final decision on the project is still several years away.
This is ridiculous.
Let me be clear. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 serves worthy goals, which should be preserved. I live out in the country. I get my water from a well. I love to see the deer and the bear come through my land. I raised my children there. If my colleagues on the other side of the aisle think that I would do anything to hurt my children, whether it is water, air, or the environment in general, they really should think again.
Federal agencies should be able to evaluate new projects to ensure that they don't pose a threat to the environment or to the public. However, over time, NEPA regulations have turned into an outdated, burdensome, and convoluted Federal permitting process that must be reined in.
The good news is that a bipartisan consensus exists on the need to reform the permitting process. In fact, the administration, the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and legislation adopted by a strong bipartisan majority in the 109th and 112th Congresses all recognize that an overly burdensome and lengthy environmental review and permitting process undermines economic growth.
The time for these reforms is now, because Americans are ready to get back to work. The RAPID Act of 2013 will remove the red tape and allow job creators to take projects off the drawing board and onto the worksite.
I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this commonsense reform, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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