Reps. Luetkemeyer, Comer urge Biden administration not to rollback NEPA rules

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Two Republican congressmen are urging the Biden administration’s Council on Environmental Quality not to reinstate certain proposed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations.

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The proposed rule, Phase 1 of 2, would require agencies to evaluate all environmental impacts of their decisions, considering direct, indirect, and cumulative effects, including issues related to climate change and environmental justice.

The GOP lawmakers said these reforms would roll back revisions made in 2020 and restore provisions that they said led to delays in environmental reviews. The lawmakers, U.S. Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), ranking member on the House Committee on Small Business, and James Comer (R-KY), ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, expressed their concerns to Brenda Mallory, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.

“The signatory Ranking Members of the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Oversight and Reform disagree with the agency’s certification of the 2021 proposed rule and believe its significant modifications will increase delays and paperwork; create more confusion about NEPA’s processes; and that small entities will be indirectly and adversely affected. NEPA currently requires an examination of the direct and indirect socio-economic impacts of major federal actions. Since such actions could have a wide impact on small businesses, a change to the current NEPA standard could be deleterious. Although this does not require CEQ to perform an RFA, modification of that rule could prove harmful to an agency’s full assessment of the impact of a major federal action as it performs the required analysis of environmental impacts under NEPA. Unfortunately, the agency did not do so and instead engaged in arbitrary and capricious rulemaking,” Luetkemeyer and Comer wrote in a letter to Mallory.

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