Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held the Senate’s first hearing to discuss the need for meaningful reforms to America’s permitting and environmental review processes, an issue Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) has championed in order to make it easier to build and complete transportation, infrastructure, and energy projects of all kinds.

Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as delivered.

“Thank you, Chairman Carper, thank all of you for being here for today’s hearing.

“I do appreciate your willingness to start this conversation in the committee and look forward to working it in the process in the coming months on our bipartisan solutions.

“This committee has been, I think, one of the most effective out of any in the Senate in moving legislation over the past couple of years via regular order, and that has been a result of our collaboration, our staff, and the work of our members to seek bipartisan solutions, and abiding by the committee process.

“So, I thank you for renewing that approach again because we know it works so that we can make sure that the environment and economic benefits from a functional federal permitting process can be seen, and that effort kicks off today.

“I also again want to thank our panel of witnesses. We are eager to hear from all of you all on how we can improve the environmental review and permitting process to revitalize our economy, reduce prices for consumers, create good-paying jobs for all Americans, and rapidly build out the infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, and mineral resources that we so sorely need.

“For far too long projects of all sorts have gotten stuck in a purgatory that is the federal environmental review and permitting process.

“If they make it through that with a permit, they face the certain threat of lawsuits, even if those didn’t start even earlier in the process.

“The problems with the process, they don’t just impact project sponsors, they harm American workers and consumers with lost jobs, higher energy prices, traffic congestion, more pollution, and many other missed opportunities that result from the failure to modernize infrastructure and energy systems.

“These costs to the American people are sort of hidden and diffused.

“Since there’s no line item on a receipt that you get that you can easily see and quantify them that has allowed us to become complacent.

“But make no mistake, these regulatory obstacles are a kind of tax on American prosperity and hamper the environmental and economic progress we want to see pass on to future generations.

“The goal of this hearing is to better understand those costs, identify some of the greatest pressure points and obstacles in the process, and hear ideas on how to address them, in understandable terms from the folks that have to navigate all of this.

“It is our role as elected officials to take this feedback and explain to our fellow Americans what we are actually doing, what the stakes are, and why improving this process goes hand in hand with ensuring environmental protection and economic growth.

“In my home state of West Virginia alone, there are multiple real-world examples of how our broken environmental review and permitting process is holding up critical projects across multiple sectors important to West Virginians but also to our national economy:

  • Transportation sector – Corridor H
  • Manufacturing sector – Nucor
  • Energy sector – Mountain Valley Pipeline

“But this is not only a West Virginia story that we’re going to hear today.

“Projects across the country of national significance are also stuck in the regulatory and legal no woman’s land.

“Job-creating projects continue to be bogged down by red tape, judicial review holdups, starts and stops that cause delay, delay, delay, and sometimes total abandonment of the projects.

“Every state has stories like these, in urban as well as rural areas.

“We will not be able to onshore the industries crucial to our international competitiveness and national security without getting this right.

“A generational investment in transportation infrastructure that we worked so hard on in this committee in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is running up against the wall of our nation’s permitting issues, delaying project delivery and letting inflation eat away at the funding that we provided.

“So where do we start?

“How do we fix this broken system?

“I believe we need permitting reform that benefits all projects, not just a small subset of projects that are politically favorable to one group or another.

“We need enforceable timelines, with clear time limits and predictable schedules for environmental reviews, and consequences when agencies fail to act in a timely fashion.

“We need to process and decide legal challenges to projects expeditiously, instead of continuing to drown in endless litigation.

“And to make the substantive changes I am describing, we must actually amend the statutes in our jurisdiction, including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and NEPA.

“Window-dressing the existing failed system is not an option, we’re not getting anywhere.

“Unless Congress and President Biden work together to make these substantive reforms, the impact of the IIJA, the CHIPS Act, and other federal investments will be severely reduced, while projects await approvals.

“Now I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I believe we’ll get the best solutions and needed reforms by going through regular order, in a bipartisan committee process that we see today.

“At the end of an honest negotiation neither side will get exactly what it wants and we all know that.

“So, Chairman Carper, you and I have found ways to find common ground and report out of the committee, we just did it today on our recycling bills, meaningful legislation in other challenging policy areas, we’ve done this before, and I am confident we can make it happen again here.

“As you like to say…you and I are workhorses, we’re not show horses.

“The American people will get a lot in return for decades to come, and be saved from the hidden tax of red tape and bureaucracy, if we on this committee can work together, as we have before, on real, implementable reforms.

“So, that is what I intend to do in working with you and our colleagues on both sides. 

“I look forward to kicking off these conversations today.

“Thank you.”

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