GOP chairman takes aim at environmental review law

Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOvernight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel Overnight Energy: Critics warn latest environmental rollback could hit minorities, poor hardest | Coalition forms to back Trump rollback | Coal-fired plants closing at near-record pace MORE (R-Utah) on Monday said Congress ought to make changes to a core environmental law to make it less of a weapon against projects. 

Bishop, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said on Hill.TV’s “Rising” that the National Environmental Policy Act’s (NEPA) permitting process is the main roadblock standing in the way of projects like oil and natural gas drilling on federal land and building more infrastructure.

“The country passed NEPA ... decades ago, in order to ensure that people have the right to have their voices heard. It is now being misused to ensure people have the right to sue continuously to slow projects down,” Bishop told “Rising” host Buck Sexton.

“So projects that can be leased, did all the requirements they need to do, can wait up to 10 years before they can actually get a permit to start being in production. And that does no good for the industry, and it doesn’t do any good for Americans.”

Bishop and his committee have repeatedly acted to try to streamline the environmental review process, with promises that it would not hurt environmental protections.

Environmentalists and Democrats say the GOP is trying to dismantle important environmental protections and opportunities for public input before projects are undertaken.

“Republicans have a personal vendetta against NEPA or any bedrock environmental law that favors the American people over money-hungry, big corporate developers,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), the Natural Resources Committee’s top Democrat, said in April when the panel held a hearing on “weaponization” of NEPA.

Bishop said letting states take over permitting for some federal land actions would greatly improve the situation.

“The federal government can establish the standards for development, let the states do the permitting process,” Bishop said Monday. “They can do in a matter of months what it takes us, federal government, years to actually accomplish. And states are not going to be litigated against as much as the federal government will.” 

— Timothy Cama