Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Consent Rules Must Conform to Congressional Intent

WASHINGTON – US Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, joined Republican members of the committee in a letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory, expressing opposition to aspects of CEQ’s proposed rules to implement bipartisan project review reforms Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).

Signed into law on June 3, 2023, the FROM includes the most substantive changes to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) since its implementation. Congress has written bipartisan reforms to simplify what has become an increasingly complex, unnecessarily burdensome, and seemingly endless federal environmental review process.

“The intent and direction of Congress to CEQ and federal agencies is clear: provide more certainty and transparency for project sponsors and investors. However, in the Proposed Rule, CEQ acted contrary to clear congressional intent and clear direction,” written by senators. “Instead, the Proposed Rule injects more uncertainty and potential legal liability into a labyrinthine process. The Administration is trying to hide this deliberate misinterpretation of the law by deceptively referring to the general proposal as “Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule.”

Senators have expressed concern with the CEQ Proposed Rule, arguing that it seeks to implement partisan policy priorities at the expense of bipartisanship. NEPA reforms of FROM.

“The changes made in the CEQ Proposed Rule would collectively add more confusion, expand the scope of the NEPA process, extend its length, open the door to more lawsuits and accusations of political favoritism that will delay or halt projects while undermining public and stakeholder confidence. All of these consequences directly contradict the bipartisan congressional intent of the FRA,” the senators continued.

“The only types of projects that may see some process efficiencies from the Proposed Rule are projects that currently have the support of the Biden Administration. This troubling precedent paves the way for future administrations to either party in similar exploitation of their priority projects at the expense of others,” conclusion of the senators. “We urge CEQ to correct course and conduct a rulemaking process that implements the FRA and follows the clear direction provided by Congress to make the NEPA process more efficient for all species of projects.”

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