Chairs Rodgers, Duncan, and Johnson Request Information Regarding Implementation of NEPA Reforms at Federal Agencies
Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) sent letters to the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding their progress implementing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reforms included in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).
- FRA, which was signed into law by President Biden on June 3, 2023, included a provision directing DOE, EPA, NRC, and FERC to implement changes to NEPA.
- In order to boost energy production and lower energy prices for Americans, it is critical that these agencies implement these changes, which lift regulatory burdens for the construction of more energy infrastructure.
- The years-long, complicated reviews involved with NEPA and resulting litigation have sidelined many energy infrastructure projects across the U.S.
- The provisions in the FRA would streamline NEPA and improve review times and the overall regulatory efficiency.
- The purpose of the letter is to ensure that these agencies are following the intent of Congress and adhering to the coordination requirements and deadlines set forth by the FRA.
KEY EXCERPT FROM THE LETTER TO ENERGY SECRETARY GRANHOLM:
"Section 321 of the FRA includes provisions from H.R. 1577, the BUILDER Act, which also passed the House of Representatives as part of H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act. The section in the FRA streamlines NEPA and improves federal review times by designating one lead agency, limiting evaluation to a single environmental document, setting page limits on environmental impact statements (EIS) and environmental assessments (EA), establishing deadlines of two years for EISs and one year for EAs, allowing for categorical exclusions, and instituting the E-NEPA unified permitting portal, among other provisions. Depending on the project, DOE could be considered a lead agency or a cooperating agency, both of which would have a key role in the implementation of the corresponding NEPA reforms."
Members asked Secretary Granholm to respond to the following questions regarding the FRA NEPA changes by September 18, 2023:
- What is DOE’s interpretation of Section 321 of the FRA?
- How long will it take DOE to implement fully Section 321 of the FRA?
- What changes are being made to DOE’s existing NEPA review processes to ensure that the Agency is following the updated law?
- Are you confident that DOE will meet the two-year and one-year statutory deadlines for EIS and EA reviews, respectively?
- Will you commit to adhering to the page limits for EIS and EA reviews set forth in the Fiscal Responsibility Act?
- Will DOE apply the NEPA changes to projects and reviews that are already in process, or does the Agency plan to apply the NEPA changes just prospectively?
CLICK HERE to read the full letter to DOE.
CLICK HERE to read the full letter to EPA.
CLICK HERE to read the full letter to NRC.
CLICK HERE to read the full letter to FERC.