The U.S. House of Representatives is serious about job creation. So serious, in fact, that they are willing to sacrifice a healthy environment just so corporations have the “potential” to create new jobs without having to worry about all of that burdensome red tape that so often comes with environmental safety standards.
In a move last week, the House passed the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act (RAPID Act – HR 2641), which will put hard deadlines on environmental reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), typically carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Republicans in the House claimed that the bill was aimed at preventing the EPA from stalling projects that could create jobs for American citizens. They said that environmental reviews, which are required by law, can hold projects up for years, and they believe that this is a cost that the economy simply cannot afford. If signed into law, the bill will limit environmental reviews to a firm 18 months, with only 36 months to complete an environmental impact statement.
The White House indicated that, if the legislation were to reach the President’s desk, he would most certainly veto it. The Hill quotes the White House as saying; “H.R. 2641 will increase litigation, regulatory delays, and potentially force agencies to approve a project if the review and analysis cannot be completed before the proposed arbitrary deadlines.”
The bill passed the House largely on party lines, with all Republican members and only 12 Democratic members voting in favor. A provision of the bill will allow projects for which an environmental review could not be completed in time to receive automatic approval. Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee proposed an amendment to strip this provision of the bill, but it failed to pass.
Another amendment, proposed by Republican Representative David McKinley from West Virginia, specifically prohibits regulatory agencies from considering “social costs of carbon” in their reviews. This amendment passed and was included in the final bill.
The Republicans are not wrong in claiming that environmental reviews can hold up projects for years, but there are two very good reasons why this happens.