Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s floor speech in support of enacting strong permitting reform.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, spoke on the Senate floor in favor of S.J. Res. 55, a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) nullifying burdensome permitting regulations by the Biden administration. The resolution, authored by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), passed despite opposition from 47 Senate Democrats.

Below is the floor speech of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:

“Mister/Madame President —

“I rise today to support Senator Sullivan’s resolution of disapproval to nullify the Biden administration’s rollback of reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA process.

“I want to first thank my colleague from Alaska for his leadership on bringing together half of this chamber in support of S.J. Res. 55, which is co-sponsored by 50 senators.

“This resolution is vital to return us to a path towards quicker, more predictable environmental reviews as we seek to improve our transportation, water and energy infrastructure, reclaim our energy independence, and build out our domestic supply chains.

“Instead of making the environmental review process more efficient, the Biden administration has been doing everything in its power to make it more difficult

“Environmental reviews are notorious for holding up energy and infrastructure projects for years.

“Of course, it’s important to know the environmental impacts a project will have before moving forward with construction.

“But, the Biden administration is focused on making them more complicated and longer, when the status quo is already unacceptable.

“In 2020, the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality found that: 

  • It took an average of four and a half years to complete an environmental impact statement or EIS under NEPA.
  • One quarter of the 1,276 projects analyzed took more than six years to complete their EIS.
  • The average time to complete a federal highway project EIS was more than 7 years.
  • The average time for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was 6 years.
  • The average length of for a Final EIS was 661 pages.

“Many EIS’s on major projects of national importance over the years have swelled to thousands of pages, running contrary to the original intent of NEPA, which is to provide transparency of federal agencies’ decision making to the American people.

“The previous administration tried to streamline the federal environmental review process by reforming the implementing regulations for NEPA.

“Now, rather than continuing to improve environmental reviews under NEPA, the Biden administration has chosen to make them even more burdensome.

“Earlier this year, the Biden administration rolled back key modernizations the previous administration made to the more-than-40-year-old NEPA regulations through its so-called ‘phase one’ NEPA rule.

“The Biden administration has created sweeping new obstacles to the environmental review process, including new avenues for delays and lawsuits that will slow down or kill projects.

“In particular, the phase one rule’s expanded definition of effects, to include ‘indirect’ and ‘cumulative effects’ of projects, will greatly delay and even kill energy projects we sorely need right now.

“With the damaging phase one rule already in place, the Biden administration is now working on even more onerous revisions to the NEPA implementing regulations in a planned phase two proposal to be unveiled later this year.

“If these revisions are not stopped, they will enshrine lengthier, more burdensome, and even insurmountable hurdles for any infrastructure, mining, industrial, or energy projects to get off the ground. 

“The Biden administration is hamstringing our nation’s ability to source materials and build infrastructure of all kinds that benefit all Americans.

“Whether it is roads and bridges, pipelines, electric transmission, mining, or renewable energy projects, an efficient environmental review process is critical to completing projects that support job creation and spur economic activity.

“It is also vital to building out and securing our domestic supply chains to ensure we have the fuels and mineral inputs to power critical services, and manufacture products.

“We’re not going to have all the solar farms and wind turbines and critical minerals and green jobs that the administration has promised to energy workers when the federal environmental review process takes five to seven to 10 years!

“Mister/Madame President —

“How do you build an economy out of a recession when you can’t build at all?

“Now it is time to come together and reform the environmental review process to expand our infrastructure, invigorate our economy, increase our energy capacity and supplies, and advance our domestic industries to lower prices, create jobs, and build a brighter future for Americans and West Virginias.

“It starts with doing away with the roadblocks the administration is throwing up by passing this resolution and moving on to legislate commonsense environmental review reforms.

“We are told that in September, Senate Democrats will cast aside their ‘regulate first’ philosophy and pass strong permitting reform legislation.

“After years of regulatory actions that decimated energy production in my state, and permitting delays that held up important infrastructure projects, I am skeptical that Democrats will reverse course next month.

“As this NEPA rulemaking reflects, the administration is hard at work creating more hurdles for projects.

“If there isn’t overwhelming, bipartisan support for this resolution of disapproval that simply stops the permitting process from getting worse, then I don’t know how anyone could believe that Senate Democrats will join us to pass meaningful legislation to make the process better.

“I urge my colleagues to vote for this resolution to free our country from the stagnation and endless delays the administration is pressing forward with.

“I yield the floor.” 

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