GOP chairman takes aim at environmental review law

Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOVERNIGHT ENERGY:  House passes sweeping clean energy bill | Pebble Mine CEO resigns over secretly recorded comments about government officials  | Corporations roll out climate goals amid growing pressure to deliver House passes sweeping clean energy bill OVERNIGHT ENERGY: California seeks to sell only electric cars by 2035 | EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities | House energy package sparks criticism from left and right 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