House Bill and Permitting Reform

Anyone not doing something more enjoyable this weekend might want to take a look at this draft House Bill, specifically for us, “permitting reform”. I couldn’t spend much time on it.. but my first take was 1) it isn’t specific to energy permitting (could be wrong, so many clauses, so little time!) and 2) it’s mostly about getting federal agency practitioners to speed up- not so much about other sources of possible slowness, and 3)

13 not required to prepare an environmental document with
14 respect to a proposed agency action if—
15 ‘‘(1) the proposed agency action is not a final
16 agency action within the meaning of such term in
17 chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code;

I wonder whether that might apply to NFMA plans. Hopefully someone will have time to take a gander at all this. Maybe so much has been negotiated that the changes are relatively meaningless (other than shortening NEPA docs and accountability for timelines). I’d appreciate others’ thoughts on this (plus links to others’ analyses).

3 thoughts on “House Bill and Permitting Reform”

  1. I read most of the relevant text, namely pages 71-98 of the bill.

    It’s great stuff.

    It should, for the first time in decades,

    — allow needed infrastructure to be built in at most a few years, rather than many years or even decades under NEPA’s current Rube Goldberg-esque procedures; and

    — start us on the road to replacing our creaky and inefficient North American power grid with one that’s reliable.

    It also directs completing a natural gas pipeline to the east coast, which Sen. Manchin (D–W.Va.) was promised in exchange for an earlier vote, but then denied after he voted the way he was asked. This is not only fair, but will help keep people safe in the mid-Atlantic and New England.

    I am delighted.

    (Re Rube Goldberg, for those unfamiliar:

  2. If you are thinking that the Supreme Court in Ohio Forestry said that forest plans are not “final agency actions” subject to review under the APA, that would be incorrect. The court determined only that “the issues before us—over the Plan’s specifications for logging and clearcutting—are not yet ripe for adjudication.” (I’m having a hard time thinking of actions that are not final that would normally trigger NEPA, so I’m not sure what this language accomplishes.)

  3. Sharon, I think you’re right that this draft legislation affects only agency slothfulness and not the litigation-blockade complex aptly described in your site’s periodic litigation summaries.

    But it’s more than one could hope for in legislation that addresses a completely different subject, i.e., authorization to service the national debt.

    Addressing the environmental litigation industry problem will, one hopes, be done, but in separate legislation.

    And really, if EAs and EISs can be pared to one or two years following certain thresholds (pp. 82-83 of the draft bill) and under a single agency, that is already a monumental improvement.


Leave a Comment

Discover more from The Smokey Wire : National Forest News and Views

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading