Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

114th Congress    }                                  {   Rept. 114-228
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                  {          Part 1

======================================================================



 
  RESPONSIBLY AND PROFESSIONALLY INVIGORATING DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2015

                                _______
                                

                 July 27, 2015.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Goodlatte, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 348]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 348) to provide for improved coordination of agency 
actions in the preparation and adoption of environmental 
documents for permitting determinations, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page

Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................    12
Committee Consideration..........................................    12
Committee Votes..................................................    12
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................    18
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................    19
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................    19
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................    22
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................    22
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................    22
Advisory on Earmarks.............................................    22
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................    23
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............    26
Dissenting Views.................................................    38

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 348, the ``Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating 
Development Act of 2015'' (``RAPID Act'') fosters job creation 
and economic growth by amending the Administrative Procedure 
Act to establish a more streamlined and transparent Federal 
permitting process for construction projects. The legislation 
builds on earlier, more limited steps to streamline the 
permitting process and responds affirmatively to the call of 
the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to 
streamline permitting further.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    Delays in the Federal permitting process have caused 
gathering concern in recent years. During the 112th Congress, 
the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness highlighted 
improvement of the Federal permitting process as one of its top 
recommendations for improving job creation and economic growth.
    The key to improving the Federal permitting process is not 
difficult to identify. As witnesses stated before the 
Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law 
during the 112th Congress, ``[t]he problem at hand is the 
increasingly undue length of time it takes to conduct a 
[National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)] review of a proposed 
project, be it public or private, that relies on Federal funds 
or approval of some kind.''\1\ ``The Hoover Dam was built in 5 
years. The Empire State Building took 1 year and 45 days. The 
New Jersey Turnpike needed only 4 years from inception to 
completion. Fast forward to the present day, and the results 
are much different. Cape Wind has needed over a decade to find 
out if it can build an offshore wind farm. Shell Corporation is 
at 6 years and counting on its permits for oil and gas 
exploration in Beaufort Bay. And the Port of Savannah, Georgia 
has spent 13 years reviewing a potential dredging project, with 
no end to the review process in sight.''\2\ ``[T]he Congress 
and President of 1969 never intended that an environmental 
impact statement process--a statement, mind you--would devolve 
over time into a multiyear incredibly arcane thicket of rules, 
huge reports, and constant court fights in which any project of 
importance to the Nation or a State that has some kind of 
Federal hook attached would likely be delayed.''\3\ ``[W]hen 
Congress was debating the issue, they were talking about time 
frames like 90 days. In 1981 [the Council on Environmental 
Quality] thought it could all be done in a year.''\4\ A recent 
study found that the average length of time to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is 3.4 years and gets 
longer each year, making the problem worse and worse.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) 
Act of 2012: Hearing before the Subcomm. on Courts, Commercial and 
Administrative Law of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Serial No. 112-99, 
112th Cong. (Apr. 25, 2012), (hereinafter ``RAPID Act Hearing I'') at 
61 (Testimony of Gus Bauman).
    \2\Id. at 43 (Testimony of William Kovacs).
    \3\Id. at 61 (Testimony of Gus Bauman).
    \4\Id. at 39 (Testimony of William Kovacs).
    \5\See Piet deWitt & Carole deWitt, ``How Long Does It Take to 
Prepare and Environmental Impact Statement?,'' Environmental Practice 
10, pp. 164-174 (Dec. 2008).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The RAPID Act was designed to respond to this need for 
reform. The majority of its provisions streamline the 
administrative review procedures agencies must use before they 
issue final permitting decisions. In addition, the legislation 
requires those who challenge final decisions in court to have 
made their arguments first during the administrative process 
and to file their litigation within 180 days of the challenged 
decision.

A. DELAYS IN FEDERAL PERMITTING FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS AND THE NEED 
                    FOR PERMIT STREAMLINING REFORMS

1. LThe National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
    The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (``NEPA'') 
``declares that it is the continuing policy of the Federal 
Government, in cooperation with State and local governments, 
and other concerned public and private organizations, to use 
all practicable means and measures, including financial and 
technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and 
promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions 
under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and 
fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present 
and future generations of Americans.''\6\ In pursuit of this 
goal, NEPA requires agencies to prepare a ``detailed'' 
statement analyzing ``major Federal actions significantly 
affecting the quality of the human environment.''\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\42 U.S.C. Sec. 4331.
    \7\Id. Sec. 4332(2)(C).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The environmental review required by NEPA typically causes 
agencies to generate one of three documents: a categorical 
exclusion (CE); an environmental assessment (EA); or, an 
environmental impact statement (EIS). A CE is the shortest 
document and is used for types of actions that are known not to 
significantly affect the environment. An EA is used to 
determine if there is a significant effect on the environment. 
If not, then the agency issues a finding of no significant 
impact (FONSI); otherwise, the agency will prepare an EIS, 
which is a thorough analysis of the proposed agency action, its 
environmental impact, and a range of alternatives and their 
impacts.\8\ ``The required documents can be voluminous and may 
take years to produce.''\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\See generally Kristina Alexander, Overview of National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Requirements (CRS RS20621 Jan. 12, 
2011).
    \9\Id. at 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ``Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) estimates that the 
vast majority of Federal actions require an EA or are 
categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an EA or 
EIS.''\10\ But projects that require an EA or an EIS, and 
therefore ``result in the most significant delays during 
NEPA,'' typically also are ``[t]he types of projects that 
create jobs.''\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\Linda Luther, The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): 
Background and Implementation, at 15 (CRS RL33152 Jan. 10, 2011).
    \11\RAPID Act Hearing I, note 1 supra, at 201 (Testimony of Thomas 
Margro).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    An EIS ensures that agencies carefully consider a proposed 
action's environmental impacts during, and provides 
transparency into, the decision-making process. ``NEPA does not 
require the agency to choose the most environmentally 
preferable alternative.''\12\ Regulations require robust public 
participation in this process, from the ``scoping'' stage where 
issues are identified, through drafting and in the final EIS, 
which should respond to comments made throughout. Public 
hearings may be utilized.\13\ Because NEPA does not create a 
cause of action, lawsuits challenging an agency's review are 
brought under the APA's 6-year statute of limitations.\14\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\Alexander, note 8 supra, at 4; see also Robertson v. Methow 
Valley Citizens Council, 490 U.S. 332, 350 (1989) (NEPA ``does not 
mandate particular results, but simply prescribes the necessary 
process.'').
    \13\Alexander, note 8 supra, at 4-5.
    \14\See 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2401.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Of course, NEPA is not the only statute that requires 
Federal agencies to analyze environmental effects. Myriad 
Federal, state, tribal and local laws also require analysis of 
how a proposed government action could impact particular 
aspects of the environment (e.g., clean air, endangered 
species). In preparing an EIS, agencies should address all of 
the environmental issues they are required to consider.
    To integrate the compliance process and avoid duplication 
of effort, NEPA regulations specify that, to the fullest extent 
possible, agencies must prepare the EIS concurrently with any 
environmental requirements. The EIS must list any Federal 
permits, licenses, and other entitlements required to implement 
the proposed project. In this capacity, NEPA functions as an 
`umbrella' statute; any study, review, or consultation required 
by any other law that is related to the environment should be 
conducted within the framework of the NEPA process.\15\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \15\Luther, note 10 supra, at 25.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. LRegulations Outlining the NEPA Process
    NEPA created the CEQ within the Executive Office of the 
President.\16\ The CEQ promulgates regulations implementing 
NEPA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \16\See 28 U.S.C. Sec. 4342.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
            a. LEnvironmental Impact Statements (EIS)
    The basic EIS preparation process under NEPA regulations 
begins when the lead agency (i.e., ``the agency or agencies 
preparing or having taken primary responsibility for preparing 
the environmental impact statement''\17\) publishes a notice of 
intent in the Federal Register, briefly describing the proposed 
action and the agency's scoping process, and giving contact 
information and/or hearing dates. The lead agency then 
initiates the ``scoping process,''\18\ which entails:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \17\40 C.F.R. Sec. 1508.16.
    \18\Id. Sec. 1501.7.

         LIdentifying and inviting ``cooperating 
        agencies,''\19\ as well as stakeholders and other 
        interested parties, to participate in preparing the 
        EIS;
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \19\Id. Sec. 1508.5 (``any Federal agency other than a lead agency 
which has jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any 
environmental impact involved in a proposal (or a reasonable 
alternative) for legislation or other major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment'').

         LIdentifying significant issues to be analyzed 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
        in depth in the EIS;

         LEliminating insignificant issues;

         LAllocating responsibilities among the lead 
        and cooperating agencies, although the lead agency 
        ultimately remains responsible for the EIS;

         LIdentifying other relevant environmental 
        review documents, or review and consultation 
        requirements, to avoid duplication and to maximize 
        efficiency.\20\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \20\Id. Sec. 1501.7(a).

    The alternatives section ``is the heart of the 
environmental impact statement.''\21\ The lead agency must 
``rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable 
alternatives'' and explain why other alternatives have been 
excluded.\22\ The EIS must ``devote substantial treatment to 
each alternative in detail'' (including the alternative of no 
action) so the reader may evaluate them comparatively, and give 
the lead agency's preferred alternative in the draft EIS and 
chosen alternative in the final EIS.\23\ The lead agency may 
set time and page limits for preparing the EIS, although none 
are required.\24\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \21\Id. Sec. 1502.14.
    \22\Id. Sec. 1502.14(a).
    \23\Id. Sec. 1502.14(b)-(f).
    \24\Id. Sec. 1501.7(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The EIS is prepared in two stages: draft and final. The 
draft EIS should be within the parameters established during 
the scoping process.\25\ The lead agency is responsible for 
inviting comments on the draft EIS, from interested 
governmental agencies or bodies, the applicant, and the 
public.\26\ The regulations recommend a standard format for the 
final EIS, to ``encourage good analysis and clear presentation 
of the alternatives including the proposed action.''\27\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \25\Id. Sec. 1502.9.
    \26\Id. Sec. 1503.1(a)(4) (The lead agency shall ``affirmatively 
solicit[] comments from those persons or organizations who may be 
interested or affected'').
    \27\Id. Sec. 1502.10. (The recommended format is: Cover sheet; 
Summary; Table of contents; Purpose of and need for action; 
Alternatives including proposed action; Affected environment; 
Environmental consequences; List of preparers; List of Agencies, 
Organizations, and persons to whom copies of the statement are sent; 
Index; Appendices (if any)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
            b. LEnvironmental Assessments (EA) and Categorical 
                    Exclusions (CE)
    NEPA regulations do not address in detail the process for 
formulating an EA. Instead, each agency has the authority to 
develop its own process\28\, although ``[a]gencies may prepare 
an environmental assessment on any action at any time in order 
to assist agency planning and decisionmaking''\29\ or to: ``(1) 
Briefly provide sufficient evidence and analysis for 
determining whether to prepare an environmental impact 
statement or a finding of no significant impact; (2) Aid an 
agency's compliance with the Act when no environmental impact 
statement is necessary; (3) Facilitate preparation of a 
statement when one is necessary.''\30\ The general format for 
an EA is that it ``[s]hall include brief discussions of the 
need for the proposal, of alternatives as required by section 
102(2)(E), of the environmental impacts of the proposed action 
and alternatives, and a listing of agencies and persons 
consulted.''\31\ Regarding CEs, agencies are required to list 
in their regulations ``Specific criteria for and identification 
of'' actions that typically result in a CE (as well as those 
that typically result in an EA and in an EIS).\32\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \28\Id. Sec. Sec. 1501.3, 1507.3.
    \29\Id. Sec. 1501.3(b).
    \30\Id. Sec. 1508.9(a).
    \31\Id. Sec. 1508.9(b).
    \32\Id. Sec. 1507.3(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. LProject Delays due to the NEPA Process
    It has long been alleged that NEPA is overly cumbersome, 
causing a lengthy decision-making process for Federal agencies. 
The cause of delay falls into two categories: preparation of 
the documents required by NEPA (e.g., an EIS) and litigation 
challenging the documents' adequacy. Generally, stakeholders 
express that EISs have become far too lengthy and technical, 
and that litigation--and the mere threat of litigation during 
the 6-year statute of limitations period--deters breaking 
ground on a project even after all permits have been 
approved.\33\ The deWitt study, which ``appears to be the only 
true quantitative analysis of the time required to complete an 
EIS,'' found that ``between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 
2006, 53 Federal executive branch entities made available to 
the public 2,236 final EIS documents; the time to prepare an 
EIS during this time ranged from 51 days to 6,708 days (18.4 
years). The average time for all Federal entities was 3.4 
years, but most of the shorter EIS documents occurred in the 
earlier years of the analysis; EIS completion time increased by 
37 days each year.''\34\ In the 109th Congress, the U.S. House 
of Representatives Committee on Resources Task Force on 
Improving and Updating the National Environmental Policy Act 
received testimony regarding delays in environmental review and 
permitting, including delays that cost jobs by causing projects 
to fail, and made suggestions to improve the NEPA process in 
its Final Report.\35\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \33\See generally Luther, note 10 supra, at 26-29; Linda Luther, 
The National Environmental Policy Act: Streamlining NEPA, at 7-10 
(RL33267 Dec. 6, 2007).
    \34\RAPID Act Hearing I, note 1 supra, at 47-48 (Testimony of 
William Kovacs).
    \35\Available at http://www.law.georgetown.edu/gelpi/
research_archive/nepa/NEPATaskForce_
FinalRecommendations.pdf (last accessed June 22, 2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Stakeholders believe this ``paralysis by analysis'' results 
in lost jobs when project sponsors and capital withdraw their 
support in the face of lengthy delays. In March 2011, as part 
of its Project No Project initiative the U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce published a study of 351 proposed energy projects--
solar, wind, wave, bio-fuel, coal, gas and nuclear--that have 
been delayed or cancelled altogether due to extensive delays in 
the Federal permitting process.\36\ ``[I]f these projects had 
been built, there would have been direct investment in the 2010 
timeframe of $576 billion in direct investment; that trickle-
down effect or the multiplier effect would have been a $1.1 
trillion boost to the economy and it would have created 1.9 
million jobs through the 7 years of construction.''\37\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \36\Steve Pociask & Joseph P. Fuhr, Jr., Progress Denied: A Study 
on the Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing 
Proposed Energy Projects (Mar. 11, 2011), available at http://
www.uschamber.com/reports/progress-denied-study-potential-economic-
impact-permitting-challenges-facing-proposed-energy (last accessed June 
22, 2012).
    \37\RAPID Act Hearing I, note 1 supra, at 39 (Testimony of William 
Kovacs).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    One timely example of the need to reform Federal permitting 
and environmental review is the Keystone Pipeline XL project, 
which--after more than 1,200 days and 10,000 pages of 
analysis--prompted an Act of Congress to force the 
Administration to decide the issue by February 21, 2012.\38\ 
Even then, on January 18, 2012, the Administration announced 
the Keystone Pipeline XL permit would not be approved by the 
February 21, 2012, deadline. On March 8, 2012, the Senate 
narrowly defeated an amendment to a transportation bill to 
override the President's decision and approve the pipeline.\39\ 
On March 22, 2012, the President announced during a speech in 
Oklahoma that he was ordering agencies to fast-track review of 
the TransCanada pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on 
the Gulf Coast of Texas.\40\ TransCanada then reapplied to 
build the pipeline, which would run from Alberta to the Gulf of 
Mexico,\41\ and the U.S. Department of State announced that it 
would begin preparing a new, supplemental environmental impact 
statement.\42\ TransCanada first applied for a permit to build 
the pipeline in September 2008.\43\ There have been further 
legislative developments this term related to the Keystone 
permit process, but there is as yet still no final resolution 
of the pipeline project's status.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \38\See H.R. 3765, Title V, Subtitle A.
    \39\See S. Amdt. 1537 to S. 1813 (Mar. 8, 2012).
    \40\See ``Remarks by the President on American-Made Energy,'' Mar. 
22, 2012, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/
03/22/remarks-president-american-made-energy (last accessed June 22, 
2012) (``Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to 
build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art 
refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I'm directing my 
administration to cut through the red tape, break through the 
bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and 
get it done.'').
    \41\Dan Frosch, ``New Application Is Submitted for Keystone 
Pipeline,'' New York Times (May 4, 2012), available at http://
www.nytimes.com/2012/05/05/us/transcanada-submits-new-application-for-
keystone-project.html (last accessed June 22, 2012).
    \42\See http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/(last accessed 
June 22, 2012).
    \43\See http://energycommerce.house.gov/keystonexl.shtml (last 
accessed June 22, 2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Save the Peaks Coalition v. United States Forest Service 
illustrates how a party can delay a project through litigation 
after ``resting on its rights.'' The Ninth Circuit called the 
plaintiff's obstructionist tactics ``a serious abuse of the 
judicial process'' but still declined to bar their lawsuit.\44\ 
Save the Peaks Coalition (SPC) sued the U.S. Forest Service 
(USFS) and Arizona Snowbowl Resort Limited Partnership (ASRLP) 
after they ``had successfully defended an agency decision to 
allow snowmaking at a ski resort on Federal land all the way to 
the United States Supreme Court.''\45\ SPC ``had closely 
monitored and, in some cases, actively encouraged and helped 
finance the first litigation,'' but waited until the last 
moment to sue.\46\ The court decried SPC's deliberately 
delaying tactics while bemoaning that current law allows them:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \44\Save the Peaks Coal. v. U.S. Forest Serv., 669 F.3d 1025, 1034 
(9th Cir. 2012).
    \45\Id. at 1028.
    \46\Id.

        Although it is apparent to us that the `new' plaintiffs 
        and their counsel have grossly abused the judicial 
        process by strategically holding back claims that could 
        have, and should have, been asserted in the first 
        lawsuit (and would have been decided earlier but for 
        counsel's procedural errors in raising those claims), 
        we are compelled to hold that laches does not apply 
        here because the USFS and ASRLP cannot demonstrate that 
        they suffered prejudice, as defined by our case 
        law.\47\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \47\Id.

4. LExamples of and Recommendations for Permit Streamlining
            a. LSAFETEA-LU, MAP-21 and WRDA
    ``The RAPID Act almost exclusively relies upon concepts 
that are part of existing law and that have been shown to work 
in other contexts, such as SAFETEA-LU,''\48\ which authorized 
spending on Federal highway programs for FYs 2005-2009. Section 
6002, regarding ``Efficient environmental reviews for project 
decisionmaking,'' expedited construction by codifying existing 
regulatory requirements, definitions, concepts and procedures. 
Specifically, Section 6002 utilized the lead agency/
participating agency NEPA process for conducting environmental 
reviews: project initiation; defining the project's purpose and 
need; coordination and scheduling for conducting the review; 
and, identifying and resolving issues that could delay the 
approval process. SAFETEA-LU also established a 180-day statute 
of limitations to challenge a final agency action (e.g., 
permitting decision) related to the environmental review.\49\ A 
bipartisan bill co-sponsored by numerous Democrats, SAFETEA-LU 
passed the House 412 to 8. The Federal Highway Administration 
found Section 6002 has reduced the average NEPA review time 
almost by half, from 73 months to 36.85 months.\50\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \48\RAPID Act Hearing I, note 1 supra, at 56 (Testimony of William 
Kovacs).
    \49\See 23 U.S.C. Sec. 139(l).
    \50\Office of Project Development & Environmental Review, Federal 
Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, ``Biannual 
Assessment of SAFETEA-LU Section 6002 Implementation Effectiveness,'' 
at 9 (Sept. 2010) (OPDER Assessment).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2012, the ``Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st 
Century Act'' (MAP-21), signed into law as P.L. 112-141, again 
legislated steps to streamline permitting of federally-funded 
transportation projects.\51\ MAP-21 contained a shorter statute 
of limitations than SAFETEA-LU, however, reducing the time 
allowed for suit to 150 days.\52\,\53\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \51\See P.L. 112-141, Sec. Sec. 1301-1323.
    \52\Id., Sec. 1308.
    \53\The 113th Congress continued to pilot these kinds of permit 
streamlining reforms during the 113th Congress, through the ``Water 
Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014'' (WRDA), H.R. 3080, 
signed into law as P.L. 113-449.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    During its prior consideration of the RAPID Act, the 
Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law 
received testimony demonstrating the effectiveness of SAFETEA-
LU's and MAP-21's permitting reforms and their usefulness as 
models for expanded reform, as well as testimony detailing the 
effectiveness of permit streamlining reforms in the American 
Recovery and Reinvestment Act.\54\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \54\See, e.g., OPDER Assessment at 9; William L. Kovacs, Statement 
of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hearing on the ``Responsibly And 
Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2013,'' House Committee 
on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and 
Antitrust Law at 12-13 (July 11, 2013).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
            b. LThe Energy Policy Act of 2005
    The Energy Policy Act of 2005 also contained several NEPA 
streamlining provisions, requiring the Secretaries of 
Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy and the Interior to 
complete within 2 years any environmental review related to 
designating energy corridors in the West.\55\ The Act required 
the Secretary of the Interior to complete within 18 months a 
programmatic EIS ``for a commercial leasing program for oil 
shale and tar sands resources on public lands, with an emphasis 
on the most geologically prospective lands within each of the 
States of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.''\56\ The Act also 
codified principles of inter-agency coordination by directing 
the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Secretaries 
of Interior, Agriculture and Defense, to prepare a memorandum 
of understanding ``to coordinate all applicable Federal 
authorizations and environmental reviews relating to a proposed 
or existing utility facility.'' The MOU was needed to ``provide 
for an agreement among the affected Federal agencies to prepare 
a single environmental review document to be used as the basis 
for all Federal authorization decisions.''\57\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \55\109 P.L. 58, Sec. 368.
    \56\109P.L. 58, Sec. 369.
    \57\109 P.L. 58, Sec. 372.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
            c. LThe NEPA Task Force
    In July 2006 the House Natural Resources Committee's NEPA 
Task Force released its Final Report,\58\ with 20 
recommendations based on input received at five field hearings 
and two more hearings in Washington, D.C., and on comments to 
the December 2005 draft report. Finding that ``there are no 
time limits for any component of the NEPA process'' because 
agencies have not ``establish[ed] appropriate time limits for 
the [EIS] process'' as the regulations require, the Final 
Report recommended that agencies have 18 months to complete an 
EIS and 9 months to complete an EA.\59\ The Final Report 
recommended that the CEQ should ``prepare regulations that 
would, in cases where state environmental reviews are 
functionally equivalent to NEPA requirements, allow these 
requirements to satisfy commensurate NEPA requirements.''\60\ 
Regarding the need to streamline litigation, the Final Report 
recommended that only parties that had ``been actively involved 
throughout the [NEPA] process'' could bring a lawsuit, with a 
180-day statute of limitations.\61\ The Final Report 
recommended that agencies should have to consider only 
``reasonable'' alternatives in its analysis, defined as ``those 
that are economically and technically feasible.''\62\ The Final 
Report also stressed the need to clarify the responsibilities 
of lead agencies, and that the lead agency should be in charge 
of ``develop[ing] a consolidated record for the NEPA reviews, 
EIS development, and other NEPA decisions,'' as well as 
``recognizing the mission and operations of cooperating 
agencies.''\63\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \58\See note 35 supra.
    \59\Id., Recommendation 1.3.
    \60\Id., Recommendation 3.1.
    \61\Id., Recommendation 4.1.
    \62\Id., Recommendation 5.1.
    \63\Id., Recommendation 6.2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
            d. LPresident's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness
    During the 112th Congress, the President's Council on Jobs 
and Competitiveness recommended streamlined permitting as a 
strategy to create jobs. A June 2011 op-ed by Jeffrey Immelt, 
Chair of the Jobs Council and Chairman and CEO of General 
Electric, and Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American 
Express, urged the President: ``Streamline permitting. Cut red 
tape so job-creating construction and infrastructure projects 
can move forward. The Administration can take a few simple 
steps to streamline the process of obtaining permits, without 
undercutting the protections that our regulatory system 
provides.''\64\ The Jobs Council also observed that ``[t]he 
current system for permitting and approving job-creating 
projects, which involves Federal, state and local agencies, can 
lead to significant delays.'' In June 2011 the Jobs Council 
made several relevant recommendations to the President:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \64\``How We're Meeting the Job Creation Challenge,'' Wall Street 
Journal, June 13, 2011.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
         LData collection and transparency;

         LEarly stakeholder engagement;

         LCentralized monitoring and accountability for 
        Federal agency performance;

         LLimiting duplication among local, state, and 
        Federal agency reviews;

         LImprove litigation management.\65\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \65\``Simply Regulatory Review and Streamline Project Approvals,'' 
Jobs Council Recommendations, available at http://files.jobs-
council.com/files/2011/10/JobsCouncil_Regulatory.pdf (last accessed 
June 22, 2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Jobs Council reiterated these suggestions in its October 
2011 Interim Report, explaining that ``[t]he thrust is to give 
stakeholders visibility into the process, deliver timely 
reviews and avoid duplicative analysis and requirements.''\66\ 
The Jobs Council's year-end report also mentioned the 
importance of permit streamlining.\67\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \66\Available at http://files.jobs-council.com/jobscouncil/files/
2011/10/JobsCouncil_Interim
Report_Oct11.pdf, p. 27 (last accessed June 22, 2012).
    \67\Available at http://files.jobs-council.com/files/2012/01/
JobsCouncil_2011YearEndReport
Web.pdf, pp. 42-44 (last accessed June 22, 2012).

            e. LThe Administration
    Following these recommendations, on August 31, 2011, the 
President asked the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, 
Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, and Transportation 
each to identify three ``high-impact, job-creating 
infrastructure projects that can be expedited through 
outstanding review and permitting processes.''\68\ The 
President described this initiative as ``a common-sense step to 
speed job creation in the near term while increasing our 
competitiveness and strengthening the economy in the long 
term.''\69\ On October 11, 2011, the President announced 14 
projects for expedited permitting and environmental review.\70\ 
These projects are tracked by the online Federal Infrastructure 
Projects Dashboard (``Dashboard''), which was created pursuant 
to the August 31 Presidential Memorandum.\71\ On March 22, 
2012, the President by Executive Order 13604 established a 
``Steering Committee on Federal Infrastructure Permitting and 
Review Process Improvement'' to select projects to be tracked 
on the Dashboard and to ``develop and publish on the Dashboard 
a Federal Plan to significantly reduce the aggregate time 
required to make Federal permitting and review decisions on 
infrastructure projects while improving outcomes for 
communities and the environment.''\72\ President Obama 
emphasized that the Federal Plan should address the following 
goals:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \68\Press Release, ``White House Announces Steps to Expedite High 
Impact Infrastructure Projects to Create Jobs,'' Aug. 31, 2011, 
available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/31/
white-house-announces-steps-expedite-high-impact-infrastructure-
projects (last accessed June 22, 2012).
    \69\Id.
    \70\Press Release, ``Obama Administration Announces Selection of 14 
Infrastructure Projects to be Expedited Through Permitting and 
Environmental Review Process,'' Oct. 11, 2011, available at http://
www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/10/11/obama-administration-
announces-selection-14-infrastructure-projects-be-e (last accessed June 
22, 2012).
    \71\See http://permits.performance.gov/(last accessed June 22, 
2012).
    \72\Exec. Order No. 13604, Improving Performance of Federal 
Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects, 77 Fed. Reg. 18887 
(Mar. 22, 2012).

         LInstitutionalizing best practices for: 
        enhancing Federal, State, local, and tribal government 
        coordination on permitting and review processes (such 
        as conducting reviews concurrently rather than 
        sequentially to the extent practicable); avoiding 
        duplicative reviews; and engaging with stakeholders 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
        early in the permitting process;

         LDeveloping mechanisms to better communicate 
        priorities and resolve disputes among agencies at the 
        national and regional levels;

         LInstitutionalizing use of the Dashboard, 
        working with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to 
        enhance the Dashboard, and utilizing other cost-
        effective information technology systems to share 
        environmental and project-related information with the 
        public, project sponsors, and permit reviewers; and

         LIdentifying timeframes and Member Agency 
        responsibilities for the implementation of each 
        proposed action.

    The Federal Plan was released thereafter\73\ and contained 
numerous suggestions for agencies to follow when conducting 
environmental reviews that are consistent both with the goals 
identified in Executive Order 13604 and with suggestions made 
at the Subcommittee's April 25, 2012, hearing.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \73\See http://permits.performance.gov/sites/default/files/
Federal_Infrastructure_Plan.pdf (last accessed June 22, 2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Relatedly, on March 6, 2012, the CEQ issued a memorandum to 
Federal agencies and departments regarding ``Improving the 
Process for Preparing Efficient and Timely Environmental 
Reviews under [NEPA].'' This guidance was issued to ``emphasize 
and clarify'' the opportunities for agencies to ``meet the 
goal'' of conducting ``high quality, efficient and timely 
environmental reviews'' under NEPA that are ``fully consistent 
with a thorough and meaningful environmental review.'' The 
memorandum encouraged agencies to follow numerous practices 
that would be required by H.R. 348, such as the need for EISs 
and EAs to be concise and clear; the importance of early and 
effective scoping and of inter-agency and inter-governmental 
coordination, including conducting concurrent reviews; 
adopting, when appropriate, existing environmental study 
documents; and, the importance of establishing clear timelines 
and deadlines. ``In many ways, the RAPID Act is a codification 
of principles set forth in CEQ's March 2012 guidance on NEPA 
efficiency.''\74\ Environmental review already has been 
completed, permits have been issued, and construction has 
begun, for several of these projects.\75\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \74\RAPID Act Hearing I, note 1 supra, at 57 (Testimony of William 
Kovacs).
    \75\See http://permits.performance.gov/news-and-updates (June 22, 
2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    More recently, on May 17, 2013, the President issued a 
presidential memorandum directing the aforementioned Steering 
Committee, in conjunction with the Administration's Chief 
Performance Officer (CPO), OIRA, and the CEQ to modernize 
regulations, policies and procedures on Federal infrastructure 
permitting and review. This initiative is intended to include 
the Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, 
Transportation, Energy, and Homeland Security, the 
Environmental Protection Agency, the Advisory Council on 
Historic Preservation, the Department of the Army, the CEQ, and 
``such other agencies or offices as the CPO may invite to 
participate.''
    This history reflects the effectiveness of prior, more 
incremental permit streamlining steps and a consensus that 
permit streamlining should be expanded and made more durable. 
The RAPID Act achieves both of those goals.

                      B. PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    The RAPID Act was first introduced as H.R. 4377 in the 
112th Congress. H.R. 4377 was reported favorably by the 
Committee and passed the House on July 26, 2012, as title V of 
H.R. 4078, the ``Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job 
Creation Act of 2012,'' on a bipartisan vote of 245-172. The 
RAPID Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress as H.R. 2641, 
the ``Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development 
Act of 2013,'' on July 10, 2013. H.R. 2641 likewise was 
reported favorably by the Committee, and it passed the House 
twice with bipartisan support, first as a stand-alone bill on 
March 6, 2014 (229-179), and, second, as Division C of H.R. 2 
on September 18, 2014 (226-191).

                                Hearings

    The Committee's Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, 
Commercial and Antitrust Law held a hearing on H.R. 348, on 
March 2, 2015. The Subcommittee also considered two unrelated 
bills at the hearing, H.R. 712, the ``Sunshine for Regulatory 
Decrees and Settlements Act of 2015,'' and H.R. 1155, the 
``Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily 
Burdensome Act of 2015'' (SCRUB Act). Testimony at the hearing 
was received from William L. Kovacs, Senior Vice President for 
Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs, the U.S. Chamber 
of Commerce; Patrick A. McLaughlin, Senior Research Fellow, 
Mercatus Center, George Mason University; Sam Batkins, Director 
of Regulatory Policy, American Action Forum; and, Amit Narang, 
Regulatory Policy Advocate, Public Citizen. Additional material 
unrelated to H.R. 348 was submitted by the Hon. Samuel Olens, 
Georgia Attorney General.
    The Subcommittee also held a hearing on the RAPID Act 
during the 113th Congress (H.R. 2641),\76\ and the Subcommittee 
on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law held a hearing on 
the legislation during the 112th Congress (H.R. 4377).\77\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \76\Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) 
Act of 2013: Hearing before the Subcomm. on Regulatory Reform, 
Commercial and Antitrust Law of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Serial 
No. 113-42, 113th Cong. (July 11, 2013).
    \77\RAPID Act Hearing I, supra note 1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        Committee Consideration

    On March 24, 2015, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered the bill H.R. 348 favorably reported without amendment, 
by a rollcall vote of 15 to 11, a quorum being present.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
following rollcall votes occurred during the Committee's 
consideration of H.R. 348.
    1. Amendment #1, offered by Mr. Nadler. The Amendment 
exempts from the bill projects that pertain to nuclear 
facilities in areas designated as earthquake fault zones. The 
Amendment was defeated by a rollcall vote of 10 to 18.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................              X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................              X
Mr. Smith (TX).................................              X
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................              X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................
Mr. Forbes (VA)................................              X
Mr. King (IA)..................................              X
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................              X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................              X
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................              X
Mr. Chaffetz (UT)..............................
Mr. Marino (PA)................................              X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................              X
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................              X
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................              X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................              X
Ms. Walters (CA)...............................              X
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................              X
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................
Mr. Trott (MI).................................              X
Mr. Bishop (MI)................................              X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........      X
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................      X
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................      X
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................      X
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................      X
Mr. Pierluisi (PR).............................
Ms. Chu (CA)...................................      X
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................      X
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Ms. DelBene (WA)...............................      X
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................      X
Mr. Peters (CA)................................      X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................     10      18
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2. Amendment #2, offered by Ms. Jackson Lee. The Amendment 
carves out from the bill's coverage any project that could be 
the target of a terrorist attack or that involves chemical 
facilities and other critical infrastructure. The Amendment was 
defeated by a rollcall vote of 9 to 16.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................              X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................
Mr. Smith (TX).................................              X
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................              X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................
Mr. Forbes (VA)................................              X
Mr. King (IA)..................................              X
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................              X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................              X
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................              X
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................
Mr. Chaffetz (UT)..............................
Mr. Marino (PA)................................              X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................              X
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................              X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................              X
Ms. Walters (CA)...............................              X
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................              X
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................
Mr. Trott (MI).................................              X
Mr. Bishop (MI)................................              X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........      X
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................      X
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................      X
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................      X
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................
Mr. Pierluisi (PR).............................
Ms. Chu (CA)...................................      X
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................      X
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Ms. DelBene (WA)...............................      X
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................      X
Mr. Peters (CA)................................      X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................      9      16
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    3. Amendment #3, offered by Ms. Jackson Lee. The Amendment 
strikes from the bill terms that deem permits for covered 
projects approved if agencies do not meet deadlines in the 
bill. The Amendment was defeated by a rollcall vote of 10 to 
16.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 3
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................              X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................
Mr. Smith (TX).................................              X
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................              X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................
Mr. Forbes (VA)................................              X
Mr. King (IA)..................................              X
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................              X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................              X
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................              X
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................
Mr. Chaffetz (UT)..............................
Mr. Marino (PA)................................              X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................              X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................              X
Ms. Walters (CA)...............................              X
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................              X
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................
Mr. Trott (MI).................................              X
Mr. Bishop (MI)................................              X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........      X
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................      X
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................      X
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................      X
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................      X
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................      X
Mr. Pierluisi (PR).............................
Ms. Chu (CA)...................................      X
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................      X
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Ms. DelBene (WA)...............................      X
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................      X
Mr. Peters (CA)................................              X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................     10      16
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    4. Amendment #4, offered by Mr. Conyers. The Amendment adds 
a rule of construction that the bill is not to be interpreted 
to change existing laws that require or provide for public 
comment or public participation during agency decision-making 
processes. The amendment was defeated by a rollcall vote of 10 
to 15.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 4
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................              X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................
Mr. Smith (TX).................................
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................              X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................
Mr. Forbes (VA)................................              X
Mr. King (IA)..................................              X
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................              X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................              X
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................              X
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................
Mr. Chaffetz (UT)..............................
Mr. Marino (PA)................................              X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................              X
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................              X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................              X
Ms. Walters (CA)...............................
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................              X
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................              X
Mr. Trott (MI).................................              X
Mr. Bishop (MI)................................              X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........      X
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................      X
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................      X
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................      X
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................      X
Mr. Pierluisi (PR).............................
Ms. Chu (CA)...................................      X
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................      X
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Ms. DelBene (WA)...............................      X
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................      X
Mr. Peters (CA)................................      X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................     10      15
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    5. Amendment #5, offered by Mr. Peters. The Amendment 
strikes from the bill terms that prohibit use in environmental 
reviews of the technical support document entitled ``Technical 
Support Document: Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon 
for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order No. 
12866,'' published by the Interagency Working Group on Social 
Cost of Carbon, United States Government, in May 2013, revised 
in November 2013, or other estimates of the monetized damages 
associated with an incremental increase in carbon dioxide 
emissions in a given year. The Amendment was defeated by a 
rollcall vote of 11 to 13.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 5
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................              X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................
Mr. Smith (TX).................................
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................              X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................              X
Mr. Forbes (VA)................................              X
Mr. King (IA)..................................              X
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................              X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................              X
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................
Mr. Chaffetz (UT)..............................
Mr. Marino (PA)................................              X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................              X
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................              X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................
Ms. Walters (CA)...............................
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................              X
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................
Mr. Trott (MI).................................              X
Mr. Bishop (MI)................................              X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........      X
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................      X
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................      X
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................      X
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................      X
Mr. Pierluisi (PR).............................
Ms. Chu (CA)...................................
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................      X
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................      X
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Ms. DelBene (WA)...............................      X
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................      X
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................      X
Mr. Peters (CA)................................      X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................     11      13
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    6. Reporting H.R. 348. The bill fosters job creation and 
economic growth by amending the Administrative Procedure Act to 
establish a more streamlined and transparent Federal permitting 
process for construction projects. Reported by a rollcall vote 
of 15 to 11.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 6
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................      X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................
Mr. Smith (TX).................................      X
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................      X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................      X
Mr. Forbes (VA)................................      X
Mr. King (IA)..................................      X
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................      X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................      X
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................      X
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................
Mr. Chaffetz (UT)..............................
Mr. Marino (PA)................................      X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................      X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................      X
Ms. Walters (CA)...............................
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................      X
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................
Mr. Trott (MI).................................      X
Mr. Bishop (MI)................................      X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........              X
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................              X
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................              X
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................              X
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................              X
Mr. Pierluisi (PR).............................
Ms. Chu (CA)...................................              X
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................              X
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Ms. DelBene (WA)...............................              X
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................              X
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................              X
Mr. Peters (CA)................................              X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................     15      11
------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable because this legislation does 
not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax 
expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the bill, H.R. 348, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, April 13, 2015.
Hon. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 348, the 
``Responsibility and Professionally Invigorating Development 
Act of 2015.''
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Susanne S. 
Mehlman, who can be reached at 226-2860.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                  Director.

Enclosure

cc:
        Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
        Ranking Member




 H.R. 348--Responsibility and Professionally Invigorating Development 
                              Act of 2015.

      As ordered reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary 
                           on March 24, 2015.




                                SUMMARY

    H.R. 348 would amend the Administrative Procedure Act, the 
law that governs how Federal agencies propose and establish 
regulations. Specifically, the bill would aim to expedite the 
review process required by the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) for construction projects that are partly or fully 
financed with Federal funds or require permits or approvals 
from Federal regulatory agencies.
    CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would cost 
$5 million over the next 5 years, assuming the availability of 
appropriated funds, because Federal agencies would incur 
additional administrative costs to meet the bill's new 
requirements. Federal agencies also would incur additional 
costs if they face legal challenges as a result of the bill's 
implementation. Over time, we expect that the bill could reduce 
the time needed to commence and complete some construction 
projects financed with Federal funds. Expediting the time 
required to start such projects would generally reduce the 
total costs to complete them, but CBO has no basis for 
estimating the number of construction projects that could be 
expedited or the savings that would be realized.
    Enacting H.R. 348 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    H.R. 348 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA).

                            MAJOR PROVISIONS

    Under NEPA, Federal agencies are required to assess the 
environmental consequences of certain actions and alternatives 
to those actions before proceeding. The affected Federal 
agencies are required to consult with other interested 
agencies, document analyses, and make this information 
available for public comment prior to implementing a proposal. 
Most significant construction projects that are partially or 
fully financed by the Federal Government require a NEPA review; 
in those cases, a permit or regulatory decision by a Federal 
agency may also be necessary. In addition, if Federal agencies 
must issue permits or regulatory decisions before certain 
privately funded construction projects can proceed, then a NEPA 
review may also be required.
    The major provisions of H.R. 348 would:

         LAuthorize sponsors of private construction 
        projects to prepare environmental reviews for NEPA 
        purposes as long as they are later approved by the 
        Federal agency leading those reviews;

         LRequire agencies to participate in a 
        multiagency process for NEPA reviews or be precluded 
        from commenting on or opposing a construction project 
        at a later time;

         LAllow the lead Federal agency for a project 
        to use environmental reviews that were conducted for 
        other construction projects in close proximity to the 
        proposed one if the projects are expected to have 
        similar effects on the environment;

         LSpecify which type of alternatives should be 
        considered during the NEPA review process;

         LImpose strict deadlines on various stages of 
        the NEPA review process, including a 2-year deadline 
        for completing Environmental Impact Statements and 
        issuing a Record of Decision; and

         LEstablish a 180-day deadline to file a 
        lawsuit challenging a NEPA review process.

                ESTIMATED COST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Costs for Federal Agencies to Implement Expedited Reviews
    All Federal agencies have a responsibility to implement 
NEPA; however, most Federal construction projects are sponsored 
by three agencies:

         LThe Department of Transportation (DOT) which 
        spends about $50 billion annually on highway and 
        transit related construction projects;

         LThe Department of Defense which spends 
        roughly $15 billion a year for construction; and

         LThe Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) which 
        spends about $2 billion annually on civilian 
        construction projects.

    Conducting a review under NEPA may also be required when 
private entities need to obtain a Federal permit to construct a 
project. Federal agencies that have a major role in regulating 
and overseeing the permit process for such projects include: 
the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, the Corps, the Bureau of Land 
Management, and the Forest Service.
    This legislation would require all agencies to follow many 
of the practices currently used by DOT and other agencies when 
conducting NEPA reviews. It also would impose some new 
requirements. CBO expects that some Federal agencies would 
issue new regulations and guidelines to meet the new 
requirements and deadlines imposed by this bill and, 
consequently, would be required to devote more personnel and 
technical resources to implementing the bill. For example, when 
DOT implemented similar requirements to implement NEPA under 
the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation 
Equity Act (SAFE TEA-LU), the agency spent about $1 million to 
establish new regulations, issue guidance, and establish new 
review processes. Based on information from several Federal 
agencies and regulatory experts, CBO estimates that over the 
next several years Federal agencies would spend a total of $5 
million to implement requirements in the bill, subject to the 
availability of appropriated funds. That estimate is based on 
the assumption that the level of effort required under the bill 
would be similar to that experienced by DOT under SAFE TEA-LU.
Litigation Costs
    According to the Congressional Research Service, specific 
actions and procedures taken by Federal agencies to comply with 
NEPA have evolved over many years following considerable 
litigation, and Federal courts have played a prominent role in 
interpreting and enforcing NEPA's requirements. Although this 
legislation would impose some restrictions that would seek to 
limit the number of NEPA claims filed against Federal agencies, 
several agencies indicated to CBO that some new litigation 
would likely occur under this bill. Given the history of 
litigation associated with the NEPA process and the fact that 
H.R. 348 would affect that process by amending the 
Administrative Procedures Act and not NEPA, CBO expects that 
the government would probably face increased litigation costs 
following enactment of the bill as stakeholders seek 
clarification of the new law's requirements or challenge an 
agency's compliance with those requirements. CBO has no basis 
for estimating the level of spending that would occur.
Cost of Federal Construction Projects
    H.R. 348 also could affect Federal spending for 
construction projects, but CBO has no basis for estimating the 
timing or magnitude of such impacts. Implementing H.R. 348 
could successfully streamline the NEPA review process, 
accelerating the time line for completing Federal construction 
projects. Over the long term, Federal agencies would realize 
efficiencies and ultimately savings in construction and 
administrative costs from such efficiencies. However, if 
enacting this legislation leads to short-term delays in 
completing Federal construction projects over the next 5 years 
because of increased litigation, those efficiencies would not 
be gained immediately.

              INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND PRIVATE-SECTOR IMPACT

    H.R. 348 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in UMRA.

                         ESTIMATE PREPARED BY:

Federal Costs: Susanne S. Mehlman
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Jon Sperl
Impact on the Private Sector: Paige Piper/Bach

                         ESTIMATE APPROVED BY:

Theresa Gullo
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of H.R. 348 establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    The Committee estimates that H.R. 348 specifically directs 
the Council on Environmental Quality and related Federal 
agencies to conduct two rule making proceedings within the 
meaning of 5 U.S.C. 551.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H.R. 
348 fosters job creation and economic growth by amending the 
Administrative Procedure Act to establish a more streamlined 
and transparent Federal permitting process for construction 
projects.

                          Advisory on Earmarks

    In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, H.R. 348 does not contain any 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of Rule XXI.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    The following discussion describes the bill as reported by 
the Committee.
Sec. 1. Short title.
    Section 1 sets forth the short title of the bill as the 
``Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act 
of 2015'' or as the ``RAPID Act.''
Sec. 2: Coordination of Agency Administrative Operations for Efficient 
        Decisionmaking.
    Section 2 adds a new subchapter to title 5 of the U.S. Code 
to address permit streamlining, makes associated technical 
amendments to the U.S. Code, and requires the Council on 
Environmental Quality to promulgate regulations to implement 
the RAPID Act.
    Subsec. 2(a): Adds a new Section 560 to title 5 to effect 
the RAPID Act's principal reforms. Under its terms, new sec. 
560(a) declares that the purpose of the Bill is to establish a 
framework to increase efficiency in the Federal permitting 
process. Because the Administrative Procedure Act coordinates 
agency action in other respects, it is fitting that it also 
should coordinate agency permitting decisions, a major 
component of which is the environmental review process.
    Subsection 560(b) contains definitions of terms used in the 
Bill, drawing upon NEPA regulations.
    Subsection 560(c) allows a project sponsor to prepare any 
environmental document required by NEPA, at the request and 
with the oversight and approval of the lead agency.
    Subsection 560(d) states that only one EIS and one EA (not 
including supplemental and court-ordered environmental 
documents) may be prepared under NEPA for a project, to be used 
by all Federal agencies. To maximize efficiency, lead agencies 
may choose to use existing, relevant data from similar 
environmental reviews. The lead agency may adopt an existing 
environmental study document that already has been prepared 
under state law that meets the requirements of NEPA. A lead 
agency also may prepare and publish a supplement to an existing 
state environmental study document, and its record of decision 
or finding of no significant impact should be based upon this 
environmental study document and any supplements. A lead agency 
may adopt environmental documents for a similar nearby project 
within the last 5 years.
    Subsection 560(e) provides that a lead agency is 
responsible for inviting and designating participating 
agencies. The lead agency designates as a participating agency 
any Federal agency that will or may adopt the resulting 
environmental study document; the designated agency can only 
decline the designation in writing. The lead agency must invite 
to be a participating agency any other agencies ``that may have 
an interest in the project, including, where appropriate, 
Governors of affected states.'' Consistent with current NEPA 
practice, tribal and local governments, including counties, 
also may become participating agencies in the environmental 
review process. If the agency does not respond in writing in 30 
days to the lead agency's invitation, then the invitation is 
declined. If an agency declines the lead agency's designation 
or invitation, then it is precluded from participating in the 
environmental review or taking any measures to oppose any 
permit, license or approval related to the project. A 
participating agency also may be designated as a cooperating 
agency, using the definition given to this term in the NEPA 
regulations as an agency with a particularly strong 
jurisdictional interest or expertise in the review. Subsection 
(e) requires the participating agencies to contribute to the 
environmental document concurrently, pursuant to regulations 
issued by CEQ, and to limit comments to their own areas of 
jurisdiction and authority.
    Subsection 560(f) directs the project sponsor to notify the 
responsible Federal agency of the project's initiation, so it 
can identify and promptly notify the lead agency. The lead 
agency should initiate the environmental review within 45 days, 
by inviting and designating the participating agencies.
    Subsection 560(g) requires the lead agency and the 
cooperating agencies to begin the scoping process ``as early as 
practicable.'' The lead agency ultimately is responsible for 
determining the range of alternatives to be evaluated. When 
making a decision under the project, no agency should evaluate 
an alternative that was not evaluated in the environmental 
study document. Cooperating agencies should only evaluate those 
alternatives that are ``technically and economically feasible'' 
for the project sponsor to undertake, and the methodologies 
should be developed collaboratively between the lead and 
cooperating agencies and published in the environmental 
document. An alternative that does not meet the project's 
purpose and need should not be evaluated. The lead agency may 
give a greater degree of analysis to a preferred alternative, 
and the analysis of each alternative shall include its 
potential effects on employment.
    Under Subsection 560(h), the lead agency is responsible for 
coordinating public and agency involvement in the review 
process and for making a schedule to complete the entire review 
process within the applicable timeframe, considering the 
particular factors given in the Bill. The lead agency should 
disregard untimely contributions made by participating 
agencies. If a participating agency does not object in writing 
to a lead agency decision, finding or request for concurrence 
in the document, then the participating agency shall be deemed 
to have concurred. As the review proceeds, the lead agency may 
lengthen the schedule for good cause, or shorten it with the 
concurrence of the cooperating agencies. The schedule must be 
given to the participating agencies and project sponsor within 
15 days and made publicly available.
    Subsection 560(i)(1)-(3) set reasonable deadlines to 
complete the environmental review. The lead agency must 
complete a review that requires an EA within 1 year, with a 6-
month extension allowed for good cause or by agreement of the 
lead agency, project sponsor and all participating agencies. An 
EIS must be completed within 2 years, with a 1-year extension 
allowed for good cause or by agreement among the lead agency, 
project sponsor and all participating agencies. Thus, for a 
project requiring both an EA and an EIS, the entire 
environmental review process should not take more than four-
and-a-half years, with maximum extensions granted. All comments 
on a draft EIS must be made within 60 days, and on other 
documents within 30 days; extensions on these deadlines are 
allowed by agreement among the lead agency, all participating 
agencies, and the project sponsor, or for good cause in the 
lead agency's judgment.
    Subsection 560(i)(4) sets reasonable deadlines for agencies 
to make permitting decisions. These timelines do not begin to 
run until all relevant agency review on the project--including 
the environmental review, per the applicable deadlines 
established by Subsection (i)(1)--is complete. Thus, no permit 
would ever be issued, by default or otherwise, until the 
relevant agency review and analysis has been performed. If the 
decision must be made before the record of decision is 
published, then the agency has 90 days beginning after all 
other relevant agency review related to the project is complete 
and after the lead agency publishes the final environmental 
impact statement, to make the decision, finding or approval. 
Otherwise, the agency has 180 days beginning after all other 
relevant agency review related to the project is complete and 
after the record of decision is published to make the decision, 
finding or approval, with extensions not to exceed 1 year from 
when the record of decision was published. If the agency does 
not decide within these timeframes, then the project or permit 
is deemed approved. The default approval is not appealable 
within the agency, and the mere fact that an approval was 
obtained by default cannot be used to support an APA lawsuit 
challenging the permitting decision as arbitrary, capricious, 
an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with 
law, or unsupported by substantial evidence. A default approval 
still could be challenged under the APA on other grounds, 
however.
    Subsection 560(j) generally requires the lead agency and 
participating agencies to work cooperatively to identify 
relevant issues; new issues should not be raised when it is too 
late to analyze them properly. The CEQ retains its traditional 
power to mediate disputes among agencies regarding issues that 
could delay completion of the environmental review.
    Subsection 560(k) prohibits a lead agency's use in any 
environmental review or environmental decisionmaking process of 
the ``social cost of carbon'' as described in the technical 
support document entitled `Technical Support Document: 
Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory 
Impact Analysis Under Executive Order No. 12866', published by 
the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon, United 
States Government, in May 2013, revised in November 2013, or 
any successor thereto or substantially related document, or any 
other estimate of the monetized damages associated with an 
incremental increase in carbon dioxide emissions in a given 
year.
    Subsection 560(l) increases transparency by requiring each 
agency to report annually to Congress regarding its compliance 
with NEPA.
    Subsection 560(m) applies to claims against an agency 
decision that are predicated on an alleged defect in the NEPA 
process. Only persons or entities that commented on the 
environmental review document (if an opportunity for comment 
was provided) may challenge that document in court, and all 
claims must be brought within 180 days after the final decision 
is published. Filing a supplemental EIS begins the 180-day 
statute of limitations anew, but a lawsuit brought within that 
new statute of limitations can only challenge the supplemental 
EIS. Subsection (l) neither creates a right to judicial review 
nor limits the right to claim a violation of the terms of a 
permit, license or approval.
    Subsection 560(n) allows the Bill's process to apply to 
individual projects or to categories of projects.
    Subsections 560(o) and (p) provide that the Bill applies 
prospectively to all covered projects for which an agency is 
required to undertake an environmental review or to make a 
decision that is based upon an environmental review, and that 
the bill's deadlines apply with limited retroactivity to 
environmental reviews and environmental decisionmaking 
processes initiated prior to the Bill's enactment.
    Subsection 560(q) contains a savings clause providing that 
nothing in section 560 shall be construed to supersede, amend, 
or modify sections 134, 135, 139, 325, 326, and 327 of title 
23, sections 5303 and 5304 of title 49, or subtitle C of title 
I of division A of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st 
Century Act and the amendments made by such subtitle (Public 
Law 112-141).
    Subsec. 2(b). Makes technical amendments to the U.S. Code.
    Subsec. 2(c). Requires the Council on Environmental Quality 
to issue implementing regulations within 180 days of enactment, 
and agencies to amend their regulations within 120 days 
thereafter.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italics and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 5, UNITED STATES CODE



           *       *       *       *       *       *       *
PART I--THE AGENCIES GENERALLY

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                  CHAPTER 5--ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE

                    SUBCHAPTER I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec.
500. Administrative practice; general provisions.
     * * * * * * *
SUBCHAPTER IIA--INTERAGENCY COORDINATION REGARDING PERMITTING
560. Coordination of agency administrative operations for efficient 
          decisionmaking.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


     SUBCHAPTER IIA--INTERAGENCY COORDINATION REGARDING PERMITTING

Sec. 560. Coordination of agency administrative operations for 
                    efficient decisionmaking

    (a) Congressional Declaration of Purpose.--The purpose of 
this subchapter is to establish a framework and procedures to 
streamline, increase the efficiency of, and enhance 
coordination of agency administration of the regulatory review, 
environmental decisionmaking, and permitting process for 
projects undertaken, reviewed, or funded by Federal agencies. 
This subchapter will ensure that agencies administer the 
regulatory process in a manner that is efficient so that 
citizens are not burdened with regulatory excuses and time 
delays.
    (b) Definitions.--For purposes of this subchapter, the 
term--
            (1) ``agency'' means any agency, department, or 
        other unit of Federal, State, local, or Indian tribal 
        government;
            (2) ``category of projects'' means 2 or more 
        projects related by project type, potential 
        environmental impacts, geographic location, or another 
        similar project feature or characteristic;
            (3) ``environmental assessment'' means a concise 
        public document for which a Federal agency is 
        responsible that serves to--
                    (A) briefly provide sufficient evidence and 
                analysis for determining whether to prepare an 
                environmental impact statement or a finding of 
                no significant impact;
                    (B) aid an agency's compliance with NEPA 
                when no environmental impact statement is 
                necessary; and
                    (C) facilitate preparation of an 
                environmental impact statement when one is 
                necessary;
            (4) ``environmental impact statement'' means the 
        detailed statement of significant environmental impacts 
        required to be prepared under NEPA;
            (5) ``environmental review'' means the Federal 
        agency procedures for preparing an environmental impact 
        statement, environmental assessment, categorical 
        exclusion, or other document under NEPA;
            (6) ``environmental decisionmaking process'' means 
        the Federal agency procedures for undertaking and 
        completion of any environmental permit, decision, 
        approval, review, or study under any Federal law other 
        than NEPA for a project subject to an environmental 
        review;
            (7) ``environmental document'' means an 
        environmental assessment or environmental impact 
        statement, and includes any supplemental document or 
        document prepared pursuant to a court order;
            (8) ``finding of no significant impact'' means a 
        document by a Federal agency briefly presenting the 
        reasons why a project, not otherwise subject to a 
        categorical exclusion, will not have a significant 
        effect on the human environment and for which an 
        environmental impact statement therefore will not be 
        prepared;
            (9) ``lead agency'' means the Federal agency 
        preparing or responsible for preparing the 
        environmental document;
            (10) ``NEPA'' means the National Environmental 
        Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.);
            (11) ``project'' means major Federal actions that 
        are construction activities undertaken with Federal 
        funds or that are construction activities that require 
        approval by a permit or regulatory decision issued by a 
        Federal agency;
            (12) ``project sponsor'' means the agency or other 
        entity, including any private or public-private entity, 
        that seeks approval for a project or is otherwise 
        responsible for undertaking a project; and
            (13) ``record of decision'' means a document 
        prepared by a lead agency under NEPA following an 
        environmental impact statement that states the lead 
        agency's decision, identifies the alternatives 
        considered by the agency in reaching its decision and 
        states whether all practicable means to avoid or 
        minimize environmental harm from the alternative 
        selected have been adopted, and if not, why they were 
        not adopted.
    (c) Preparation of Environmental Documents.--Upon the 
request of the lead agency, the project sponsor shall be 
authorized to prepare any document for purposes of an 
environmental review required in support of any project or 
approval by the lead agency if the lead agency furnishes 
oversight in such preparation and independently evaluates such 
document and the document is approved and adopted by the lead 
agency prior to taking any action or making any approval based 
on such document.
    (d) Adoption and Use of Documents.--
            (1) Documents prepared under nepa.--
                    (A) Not more than 1 environmental impact 
                statement and 1 environmental assessment shall 
                be prepared under NEPA for a project (except 
                for supplemental environmental documents 
                prepared under NEPA or environmental documents 
                prepared pursuant to a court order), and, 
                except as otherwise provided by law, the lead 
                agency shall prepare the environmental impact 
                statement or environmental assessment. After 
                the lead agency issues a record of decision, no 
                Federal agency responsible for making any 
                approval for that project may rely on a 
                document other than the environmental document 
                prepared by the lead agency.
                    (B) Upon the request of a project sponsor, 
                a lead agency may adopt, use, or rely upon 
                secondary and cumulative impact analyses 
                included in any environmental document prepared 
                under NEPA for projects in the same geographic 
                area where the secondary and cumulative impact 
                analyses provide information and data that 
                pertains to the NEPA decision for the project 
                under review.
            (2) State environmental documents; supplemental 
        documents.--
                    (A) Upon the request of a project sponsor, 
                a lead agency may adopt a document that has 
                been prepared for a project under State laws 
                and procedures as the environmental impact 
                statement or environmental assessment for the 
                project, provided that the State laws and 
                procedures under which the document was 
                prepared provide environmental protection and 
                opportunities for public involvement that are 
                substantially equivalent to NEPA.
                    (B) An environmental document adopted under 
                subparagraph (A) is deemed to satisfy the lead 
                agency's obligation under NEPA to prepare an 
                environmental impact statement or environmental 
                assessment.
                    (C) In the case of a document described in 
                subparagraph (A), during the period after 
                preparation of the document but before its 
                adoption by the lead agency, the lead agency 
                shall prepare and publish a supplement to that 
                document if the lead agency determines that--
                            (i) a significant change has been 
                        made to the project that is relevant 
                        for purposes of environmental review of 
                        the project; or
                            (ii) there have been significant 
                        changes in circumstances or 
                        availability of information relevant to 
                        the environmental review for the 
                        project.
                    (D) If the agency prepares and publishes a 
                supplemental document under subparagraph (C), 
                the lead agency may solicit comments from 
                agencies and the public on the supplemental 
                document for a period of not more than 45 days 
                beginning on the date of the publication of the 
                supplement.
                    (E) A lead agency shall issue its record of 
                decision or finding of no significant impact, 
                as appropriate, based upon the document adopted 
                under subparagraph (A), and any supplements 
                thereto.
            (3) Contemporaneous projects.--If the lead agency 
        determines that there is a reasonable likelihood that 
        the project will have similar environmental impacts as 
        a similar project in geographical proximity to the 
        project, and that similar project was subject to 
        environmental review or similar State procedures within 
        the 5-year period immediately preceding the date that 
        the lead agency makes that determination, the lead 
        agency may adopt the environmental document that 
        resulted from that environmental review or similar 
        State procedure. The lead agency may adopt such an 
        environmental document, if it is prepared under State 
        laws and procedures only upon making a favorable 
        determination on such environmental document pursuant 
        to paragraph (2)(A).
    (e) Participating Agencies.--
            (1) In general.--The lead agency shall be 
        responsible for inviting and designating participating 
        agencies in accordance with this subsection. The lead 
        agency shall provide the invitation or notice of the 
        designation in writing.
            (2) Federal participating agencies.--Any Federal 
        agency that is required to adopt the environmental 
        document of the lead agency for a project shall be 
        designated as a participating agency and shall 
        collaborate on the preparation of the environmental 
        document, unless the Federal agency informs the lead 
        agency, in writing, by a time specified by the lead 
        agency in the designation of the Federal agency that 
        the Federal agency--
                    (A) has no jurisdiction or authority with 
                respect to the project;
                    (B) has no expertise or information 
                relevant to the project; and
                    (C) does not intend to submit comments on 
                the project.
            (3) Invitation.--The lead agency shall identify, as 
        early as practicable in the environmental review for a 
        project, any agencies other than an agency described in 
        paragraph (2) that may have an interest in the project, 
        including, where appropriate, Governors of affected 
        States, and heads of appropriate tribal and local 
        (including county) governments, and shall invite such 
        identified agencies and officials to become 
        participating agencies in the environmental review for 
        the project. The invitation shall set a deadline of 30 
        days for responses to be submitted, which may only be 
        extended by the lead agency for good cause shown. Any 
        agency that fails to respond prior to the deadline 
        shall be deemed to have declined the invitation.
            (4) Effect of declining participating agency 
        invitation.--Any agency that declines a designation or 
        invitation by the lead agency to be a participating 
        agency shall be precluded from submitting comments on 
        any document prepared under NEPA for that project or 
        taking any measures to oppose, based on the 
        environmental review, any permit, license, or approval 
        related to that project.
            (5) Effect of designation.--Designation as a 
        participating agency under this subsection does not 
        imply that the participating agency--
                    (A) supports a proposed project; or
                    (B) has any jurisdiction over, or special 
                expertise with respect to evaluation of, the 
                project.
            (6) Cooperating agency.--A participating agency may 
        also be designated by a lead agency as a ``cooperating 
        agency'' under the regulations contained in part 1500 
        of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, as in effect 
        on January 1, 2011. Designation as a cooperating agency 
        shall have no effect on designation as participating 
        agency. No agency that is not a participating agency 
        may be designated as a cooperating agency.
            (7) Concurrent reviews.--Each Federal agency 
        shall--
                    (A) carry out obligations of the Federal 
                agency under other applicable law concurrently 
                and in conjunction with the review required 
                under NEPA; and
                    (B) in accordance with the rules made by 
                the Council on Environmental Quality pursuant 
                to subsection (n)(1), make and carry out such 
                rules, policies, and procedures as may be 
                reasonably necessary to enable the agency to 
                ensure completion of the environmental review 
                and environmental decisionmaking process in a 
                timely, coordinated, and environmentally 
                responsible manner.
            (8) Comments.--Each participating agency shall 
        limit its comments on a project to areas that are 
        within the authority and expertise of such 
        participating agency. Each participating agency shall 
        identify in such comments the statutory authority of 
        the participating agency pertaining to the subject 
        matter of its comments. The lead agency shall not act 
        upon, respond to or include in any document prepared 
        under NEPA, any comment submitted by a participating 
        agency that concerns matters that are outside of the 
        authority and expertise of the commenting participating 
        agency.
    (f) Project Initiation Request.--
            (1) Notice.--A project sponsor shall provide the 
        Federal agency responsible for undertaking a project 
        with notice of the initiation of the project by 
        providing a description of the proposed project, the 
        general location of the proposed project, and a 
        statement of any Federal approvals anticipated to be 
        necessary for the proposed project, for the purpose of 
        informing the Federal agency that the environmental 
        review should be initiated.
            (2) Lead agency initiation.--The agency receiving a 
        project initiation notice under paragraph (1) shall 
        promptly identify the lead agency for the project, and 
        the lead agency shall initiate the environmental review 
        within a period of 45 days after receiving the notice 
        required by paragraph (1) by inviting or designating 
        agencies to become participating agencies, or, where 
        the lead agency determines that no participating 
        agencies are required for the project, by taking such 
        other actions that are reasonable and necessary to 
        initiate the environmental review.
    (g) Alternatives Analysis.--
            (1) Participation.--As early as practicable during 
        the environmental review, but no later than during 
        scoping for a project requiring the preparation of an 
        environmental impact statement, the lead agency shall 
        provide an opportunity for involvement by cooperating 
        agencies in determining the range of alternatives to be 
        considered for a project.
            (2) Range of alternatives.--Following participation 
        under paragraph (1), the lead agency shall determine 
        the range of alternatives for consideration in any 
        document which the lead agency is responsible for 
        preparing for the project, subject to the following 
        limitations:
                    (A) No evaluation of certain 
                alternatives.--No Federal agency shall evaluate 
                any alternative that was identified but not 
                carried forward for detailed evaluation in an 
                environmental document or evaluated and not 
                selected in any environmental document prepared 
                under NEPA for the same project.
                    (B) Only feasible alternatives evaluated.--
                Where a project is being constructed, managed, 
                funded, or undertaken by a project sponsor that 
                is not a Federal agency, Federal agencies shall 
                only be required to evaluate alternatives that 
                the project sponsor could feasibly undertake, 
                consistent with the purpose of and the need for 
                the project, including alternatives that can be 
                undertaken by the project sponsor and that are 
                technically and economically feasible.
            (3) Methodologies.--
                    (A) In general.--The lead agency shall 
                determine, in collaboration with cooperating 
                agencies at appropriate times during the 
                environmental review, the methodologies to be 
                used and the level of detail required in the 
                analysis of each alternative for a project. The 
                lead agency shall include in the environmental 
                document a description of the methodologies 
                used and how the methodologies were selected.
                    (B) No evaluation of inappropriate 
                alternatives.--When a lead agency determines 
                that an alternative does not meet the purpose 
                and need for a project, that alternative is not 
                required to be evaluated in detail in an 
                environmental document.
            (4) Preferred alternative.--At the discretion of 
        the lead agency, the preferred alternative for a 
        project, after being identified, may be developed to a 
        higher level of detail than other alternatives in order 
        to facilitate the development of mitigation measures or 
        concurrent compliance with other applicable laws if the 
        lead agency determines that the development of such 
        higher level of detail will not prevent the lead agency 
        from making an impartial decision as to whether to 
        accept another alternative which is being considered in 
        the environmental review.
            (5) Employment analysis.--The evaluation of each 
        alternative in an environmental impact statement or an 
        environmental assessment shall identify the potential 
        effects of the alternative on employment, including 
        potential short-term and long-term employment increases 
        and reductions and shifts in employment.
    (h) Coordination and Scheduling.--
            (1) Coordination plan.--
                    (A) In general.--The lead agency shall 
                establish and implement a plan for coordinating 
                public and agency participation in and comment 
                on the environmental review for a project or 
                category of projects to facilitate the 
                expeditious resolution of the environmental 
                review.
                    (B) Schedule.--
                            (i) In general.--The lead agency 
                        shall establish as part of the 
                        coordination plan for a project, after 
                        consultation with each participating 
                        agency and, where applicable, the 
                        project sponsor, a schedule for 
                        completion of the environmental review. 
                        The schedule shall include deadlines, 
                        consistent with subsection (i), for 
                        decisions under any other Federal laws 
                        (including the issuance or denial of a 
                        permit or license) relating to the 
                        project that is covered by the 
                        schedule.
                            (ii) Factors for consideration.--In 
                        establishing the schedule, the lead 
                        agency shall consider factors such as--
                                    (I) the responsibilities of 
                                participating agencies under 
                                applicable laws;
                                    (II) resources available to 
                                the participating agencies;
                                    (III) overall size and 
                                complexity of the project;
                                    (IV) overall schedule for 
                                and cost of the project;
                                    (V) the sensitivity of the 
                                natural and historic resources 
                                that could be affected by the 
                                project; and
                                    (VI) the extent to which 
                                similar projects in geographic 
                                proximity were recently subject 
                                to environmental review or 
                                similar State procedures.
                            (iii) Compliance with the 
                        schedule.--
                                    (I) All participating 
                                agencies shall comply with the 
                                time periods established in the 
                                schedule or with any modified 
                                time periods, where the lead 
                                agency modifies the schedule 
                                pursuant to subparagraph (D).
                                    (II) The lead agency shall 
                                disregard and shall not respond 
                                to or include in any document 
                                prepared under NEPA, any 
                                comment or information 
                                submitted or any finding made 
                                by a participating agency that 
                                is outside of the time period 
                                established in the schedule or 
                                modification pursuant to 
                                subparagraph (D) for that 
                                agency's comment, submission or 
                                finding.
                                    (III) If a participating 
                                agency fails to object in 
                                writing to a lead agency 
                                decision, finding or request 
                                for concurrence within the time 
                                period established under law or 
                                by the lead agency, the agency 
                                shall be deemed to have 
                                concurred in the decision, 
                                finding or request.
                    (C) Consistency with other time periods.--A 
                schedule under subparagraph (B) shall be 
                consistent with any other relevant time periods 
                established under Federal law.
                    (D) Modification.--The lead agency may--
                            (i) lengthen a schedule established 
                        under subparagraph (B) for good cause; 
                        and
                            (ii) shorten a schedule only with 
                        the concurrence of the cooperating 
                        agencies.
                    (E) Dissemination.--A copy of a schedule 
                under subparagraph (B), and of any 
                modifications to the schedule, shall be--
                            (i) provided within 15 days of 
                        completion or modification of such 
                        schedule to all participating agencies 
                        and to the project sponsor; and
                            (ii) made available to the public.
                    (F) Roles and responsibility of lead 
                agency.--With respect to the environmental 
                review for any project, the lead agency shall 
                have authority and responsibility to take such 
                actions as are necessary and proper, within the 
                authority of the lead agency, to facilitate the 
                expeditious resolution of the environmental 
                review for the project.
    (i) Deadlines.--The following deadlines shall apply to any 
project subject to review under NEPA and any decision under any 
Federal law relating to such project (including the issuance or 
denial of a permit or license or any required finding):
            (1) Environmental review deadlines.--The lead 
        agency shall complete the environmental review within 
        the following deadlines:
                    (A) Environmental impact statement 
                projects.--For projects requiring preparation 
                of an environmental impact statement--
                            (i) the lead agency shall issue an 
                        environmental impact statement within 2 
                        years after the earlier of the date the 
                        lead agency receives the project 
                        initiation request or a Notice of 
                        Intent to Prepare an Environmental 
                        Impact Statement is published in the 
                        Federal Register; and
                            (ii) in circumstances where the 
                        lead agency has prepared an 
                        environmental assessment and determined 
                        that an environmental impact statement 
                        will be required, the lead agency shall 
                        issue the environmental impact 
                        statement within 2 years after the date 
                        of publication of the Notice of Intent 
                        to Prepare an Environmental Impact 
                        Statement in the Federal Register.
                    (B) Environmental assessment projects.--For 
                projects requiring preparation of an 
                environmental assessment, the lead agency shall 
                issue a finding of no significant impact or 
                publish a Notice of Intent to Prepare an 
                Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal 
                Register within 1 year after the earlier of the 
                date the lead agency receives the project 
                initiation request, makes a decision to prepare 
                an environmental assessment, or sends out 
                participating agency invitations.
            (2) Extensions.--
                    (A) Requirements.--The environmental review 
                deadlines may be extended only if--
                            (i) a different deadline is 
                        established by agreement of the lead 
                        agency, the project sponsor, and all 
                        participating agencies; or
                            (ii) the deadline is extended by 
                        the lead agency for good cause.
                    (B) Limitation.--The environmental review 
                shall not be extended by more than 1 year for a 
                project requiring preparation of an 
                environmental impact statement or by more than 
                180 days for a project requiring preparation of 
                an environmental assessment.
            (3) Environmental review comments.--
                    (A) Comments on draft environmental impact 
                statement.--For comments by agencies and the 
                public on a draft environmental impact 
                statement, the lead agency shall establish a 
                comment period of not more than 60 days after 
                publication in the Federal Register of notice 
                of the date of public availability of such 
                document, unless--
                            (i) a different deadline is 
                        established by agreement of the lead 
                        agency, the project sponsor, and all 
                        participating agencies; or
                            (ii) the deadline is extended by 
                        the lead agency for good cause.
                    (B) Other comments.--For all other comment 
                periods for agency or public comments in the 
                environmental review process, the lead agency 
                shall establish a comment period of no more 
                than 30 days from availability of the materials 
                on which comment is requested, unless--
                            (i) a different deadline is 
                        established by agreement of the lead 
                        agency, the project sponsor, and all 
                        participating agencies; or
                            (ii) the deadline is extended by 
                        the lead agency for good cause.
            (4) Deadlines for decisions under other laws.--
        Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in any case 
        in which a decision under any other Federal law 
        relating to the undertaking of a project being reviewed 
        under NEPA (including the issuance or denial of a 
        permit or license) is required to be made, the 
        following deadlines shall apply:
                    (A) Decisions prior to record of decision 
                or finding of no significant impact.--If a 
                Federal agency is required to approve, or 
                otherwise to act upon, a permit, license, or 
                other similar application for approval related 
                to a project prior to the record of decision or 
                finding of no significant impact, such Federal 
                agency shall approve or otherwise act not later 
                than the end of a 90-day period beginning--
                            (i) after all other relevant agency 
                        review related to the project is 
                        complete; and
                            (ii) after the lead agency 
                        publishes a notice of the availability 
                        of the final environmental impact 
                        statement or issuance of other final 
                        environmental documents, or no later 
                        than such other date that is otherwise 
                        required by law, whichever event occurs 
                        first.
                    (B) Other decisions.--With regard to any 
                approval or other action related to a project 
                by a Federal agency that is not subject to 
                subparagraph (A), each Federal agency shall 
                approve or otherwise act not later than the end 
                of a period of 180 days beginning--
                            (i) after all other relevant agency 
                        review related to the project is 
                        complete; and
                            (ii) after the lead agency issues 
                        the record of decision or finding of no 
                        significant impact, unless a different 
                        deadline is established by agreement of 
                        the Federal agency, lead agency, and 
                        the project sponsor, where applicable, 
                        or the deadline is extended by the 
                        Federal agency for good cause, provided 
                        that such extension shall not extend 
                        beyond a period that is 1 year after 
                        the lead agency issues the record of 
                        decision or finding of no significant 
                        impact.
                    (C) Failure to act.--In the event that any 
                Federal agency fails to approve, or otherwise 
                to act upon, a permit, license, or other 
                similar application for approval related to a 
                project within the applicable deadline 
                described in subparagraph (A) or (B), the 
                permit, license, or other similar application 
                shall be deemed approved by such agency and the 
                agency shall take action in accordance with 
                such approval within 30 days of the applicable 
                deadline described in subparagraph (A) or (B).
                    (D) Final agency action.--Any approval 
                under subparagraph (C) is deemed to be final 
                agency action, and may not be reversed by any 
                agency. In any action under chapter 7 seeking 
                review of such a final agency action, the court 
                may not set aside such agency action by reason 
                of that agency action having occurred under 
                this paragraph.
    (j) Issue Identification and Resolution.--
            (1) Cooperation.--The lead agency and the 
        participating agencies shall work cooperatively in 
        accordance with this section to identify and resolve 
        issues that could delay completion of the environmental 
        review or could result in denial of any approvals 
        required for the project under applicable laws.
            (2) Lead agency responsibilities.--The lead agency 
        shall make information available to the participating 
        agencies as early as practicable in the environmental 
        review regarding the environmental, historic, and 
        socioeconomic resources located within the project area 
        and the general locations of the alternatives under 
        consideration. Such information may be based on 
        existing data sources, including geographic information 
        systems mapping.
            (3) Participating agency responsibilities.--Based 
        on information received from the lead agency, 
        participating agencies shall identify, as early as 
        practicable, any issues of concern regarding the 
        project's potential environmental, historic, or 
        socioeconomic impacts. In this paragraph, issues of 
        concern include any issues that could substantially 
        delay or prevent an agency from granting a permit or 
        other approval that is needed for the project.
            (4) Issue resolution.--
                    (A) Meeting of participating agencies.--At 
                any time upon request of a project sponsor, the 
                lead agency shall promptly convene a meeting 
                with the relevant participating agencies and 
                the project sponsor, to resolve issues that 
                could delay completion of the environmental 
                review or could result in denial of any 
                approvals required for the project under 
                applicable laws.
                    (B) Notice that resolution cannot be 
                achieved.--If a resolution cannot be achieved 
                within 30 days following such a meeting and a 
                determination by the lead agency that all 
                information necessary to resolve the issue has 
                been obtained, the lead agency shall notify the 
                heads of all participating agencies, the 
                project sponsor, and the Council on 
                Environmental Quality for further proceedings 
                in accordance with section 204 of NEPA, and 
                shall publish such notification in the Federal 
                Register.
    (k) Limitation on Use of Social Cost of Carbon.--
            (1) In general.--In the case of any environmental 
        review or environmental decisionmaking process, a lead 
        agency may not use the social cost of carbon.
            (2) Definition.--In this subsection, the term 
        ``social cost of carbon'' means the social cost of 
        carbon as described in the technical support document 
        entitled ``Technical Support Document: Technical Update 
        of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact 
        Analysis Under Executive Order No. 12866'', published 
        by the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of 
        Carbon, United States Government, in May 2013, revised 
        in November 2013, or any successor thereto or 
        substantially related document, or any other estimate 
        of the monetized damages associated with an incremental 
        increase in carbon dioxide emissions in a given year.
    (l) Report to Congress.--The head of each Federal agency 
shall report annually to Congress--
            (1) the projects for which the agency initiated 
        preparation of an environmental impact statement or 
        environmental assessment;
            (2) the projects for which the agency issued a 
        record of decision or finding of no significant impact 
        and the length of time it took the agency to complete 
        the environmental review for each such project;
            (3) the filing of any lawsuits against the agency 
        seeking judicial review of a permit, license, or 
        approval issued by the agency for an action subject to 
        NEPA, including the date the complaint was filed, the 
        court in which the complaint was filed, and a summary 
        of the claims for which judicial review was sought; and
            (4) the resolution of any lawsuits against the 
        agency that sought judicial review of a permit, 
        license, or approval issued by the agency for an action 
        subject to NEPA.
    (m) Limitations on Claims.--
            (1) In general.--Notwithstanding any other 
        provision of law, a claim arising under Federal law 
        seeking judicial review of a permit, license, or 
        approval issued by a Federal agency for an action 
        subject to NEPA shall be barred unless--
                    (A) in the case of a claim pertaining to a 
                project for which an environmental review was 
                conducted and an opportunity for comment was 
                provided, the claim is filed by a party that 
                submitted a comment during the environmental 
                review on the issue on which the party seeks 
                judicial review, and such comment was 
                sufficiently detailed to put the lead agency on 
                notice of the issue upon which the party seeks 
                judicial review; and
                    (B) filed within 180 days after publication 
                of a notice in the Federal Register announcing 
                that the permit, license, or approval is final 
                pursuant to the law under which the agency 
                action is taken, unless a shorter time is 
                specified in the Federal law pursuant to which 
                judicial review is allowed.
            (2) New information.--The preparation of a 
        supplemental environmental impact statement, when 
        required, is deemed a separate final agency action and 
        the deadline for filing a claim for judicial review of 
        such action shall be 180 days after the date of 
        publication of a notice in the Federal Register 
        announcing the record of decision for such action. Any 
        claim challenging agency action on the basis of 
        information in a supplemental environmental impact 
        statement shall be limited to challenges on the basis 
        of that information.
            (3) Rule of construction.--Nothing in this 
        subsection shall be construed to create a right to 
        judicial review or place any limit on filing a claim 
        that a person has violated the terms of a permit, 
        license, or approval.
    (n) Categories of Projects.--The authorities granted under 
this subchapter may be exercised for an individual project or a 
category of projects.
    (o) Effective Date.--The requirements of this subchapter 
shall apply only to environmental reviews and environmental 
decisionmaking processes initiated after the date of enactment 
of this subchapter. In the case of a project for which an 
environmental review or environmental decisionmaking process 
was initiated prior to the date of enactment of this 
subchapter, the provisions of subsection (i) shall apply, 
except that, notwithstanding any other provision of this 
section, in determining a deadline under such subsection, any 
applicable period of time shall be calculated as beginning from 
the date of enactment of this subchapter.
    (p) Applicability.--Except as provided in subsection (p), 
this subchapter applies, according to the provisions thereof, 
to all projects for which a Federal agency is required to 
undertake an environmental review or make a decision under an 
environmental law for a project for which a Federal agency is 
undertaking an environmental review.
    (q) Savings Clause.--Nothing in this section shall be 
construed to supersede, amend, or modify sections 134, 135, 
139, 325, 326, and 327 of title 23, sections 5303 and 5304 of 
title 49, or subtitle C of title I of division A of the Moving 
Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act and the amendments 
made by such subtitle (Public Law 112-141).

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                            Dissenting Views

                              INTRODUCTION

    H.R. 348, the ``Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating 
Development Act of 2015,'' or the ``RAPID Act,'' is an ill-
conceived effort to force agencies to prioritize speed over 
analysis for congressionally-mandated environmental reviews of 
construction projects that are federally funded or that require 
Federal approval by a Federal agency. The bill amends the 
environmental review process under the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA)\1\ to impose numerous new requirements and 
deadlines that Federal agencies must follow. Even though the 
Administrative Procedure Act (APA)\2\ does not include a single 
provision concerning environmental law, H.R. 348 is drafted as 
an amendment to the APA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Pub. L. No. 91-190 (1970), codified at 42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 4321 
et seq. (2015).
    \2\5 U.S.C. Sec. 551-59, 701-06, 1305, 3105, 3344, 5372, 7521 
(2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Contrary to its title, the RAPID Act will lead to more 
litigation and delay rather than making the permit approval 
process faster. It will create a parallel universe of 
regulatory requirements that would pertain only to certain 
types of projects, even though NEPA has provided an effective 
framework for more than 40 years for all types of projects that 
require Federal approval pursuant to a Federal law, such as the 
Clean Air Act.\3\ Most importantly, H.R. 348 will potentially 
shift control of the regulatory approval process from Federal 
agencies that are charged with protecting public health and 
safety to the private sector. It does this by skewing the 
process in favor of project approval and one-size-fits-all 
deadlines, while severely truncating the deliberative process 
pursuant to which the environmental consequences of proposed 
projects are considered.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 7401 et seq. (2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Specifically, H.R. 348: (1) is a solution in search of a 
problem as it attempts to address purported delays in the 
environmental review and permit approval process that have 
nothing to do with NEPA, the law that this bill primarily 
attempts to re-write; (2) creates a parallel environmental 
review process for an ill-defined subset of Federal projects 
that will lead to confusion, spawn litigation, and will result 
in further delay; (3) forecloses potentially valuable agency 
and public input and imposes unduly rigid deadlines for agency 
action; and (4) institutionalizes a bias in favor of approving 
an agency's preferred alternative.
    Not surprisingly, the Administration threatened to veto 
H.R. 348's predecessor from the 113th Congress, stating that it 
would ``lead to more confusion and delay, limit public 
participation in the permitting process, and ultimately hamper 
economic growth.''\4\ In addition, a number of respected 
environmental groups--including the League of Conservation 
Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, 
Southern Environmental Law Center, Center for Biological 
Diversity, Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental 
Protection Information Center, Klamath Forest Alliance, and The 
Wilderness Society--strenuously oppose this measure because it 
``will create more delays in permitting, result in less 
flexibility in the process, and, turning the role of government 
on its head, tilt the entire permitting process towards 
shareholder interest, not the public interest.''\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and 
Budget, Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 2641--The 
Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2013 
(March 5, 2014), https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/
legislative/sap/113/saphr2641r_20140305.pdf. The Council on 
Environmental Quality also strenuously opposed a nearly identical 
version of the RAPID Act in the 112th Congress. Letter from Nancy H. 
Sutley, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality, Executive Office of 
the President, to Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Chair, and Rep. Steve Cohen 
(D-TN), Ranking Member, Subcomm. on Courts, Commercial and 
Administrative Law of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Apr. 24, 2012) (on 
file with H. Comm. on the Judiciary Democratic staff) (noting that the 
legislation is ``deeply flawed'' and that it ``will undermine the 
environmental review process'').
    \5\Letter from Bill Snape, Senior Counsel, Center for Biological 
Diversity, et al. to Members of the H. Committee on the Judiciary (Mar. 
24, 2015) (on file with the H. Committee on the Judiciary, Democratic 
Staff).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For these reasons and those described below, we 
respectfully dissent and urge our colleagues to reject this 
seriously flawed bill.

                              DESCRIPTION

    H.R. 348 amends the APA to establish an extremely complex 
series of requirements that Federal agencies must adhere to 
with respect to reviewing the environmental impact of 
construction projects that are federally funded or that require 
approval by a Federal agency. The bill's principal provisions 
are summarized below and a detailed section-by-section 
explanation of the bill appears at the end of these views.
    H.R. 348:

        (1) Lauthorizes a project sponsor, upon the request of 
        a lead agency (the agency responsible preparing the 
        environmental document), to prepare any document for 
        environmental review required in support of, or for 
        approval of, such an activity if such agency furnishes 
        oversight and independently evaluates, approves, and 
        adopts such document prior to taking action or making 
        any approval based on such document;

        (2) Ldeems a project to be approved in the event that a 
        Federal agency fails to approve or otherwise act upon a 
        permit, license, or other similar application for 
        approval related to a project within such deadlines, 
        and specifies such approval to be final agency action 
        that may not be reversed by an agency;

        (3) Lprohibits, after the lead agency issues a record 
        of decision, any Federal agency responsible for making 
        any approval for a project from relying on a document 
        other than the environmental document prepared by the 
        lead agency;

        (4) Lallows the lead agency, upon the request of a 
        project sponsor, to utilize secondary and cumulative 
        impact analyses included in documents prepared under 
        NEPA for projects in the same geographic area if such 
        documents are pertinent to the NEPA decision for the 
        project under review;

        (5) Lauthorizes a lead agency to adopt for a project an 
        environmental document for a similar project that is in 
        geographical proximity and that was subject to 
        environmental review or similar state procedures within 
        the preceding 5 years if the agency determines that 
        there is a reasonable likelihood that the projects will 
        have similar environmental impacts;

        (6) Lrequires the lead agency to invite and designate 
        as a participating agency in the preparation of an 
        environmental document for a project any Federal agency 
        that is required to adopt such document;

        (7) Lprecludes any agency that declines to participate 
        from submitting comments on such document or taking 
        measures to oppose any permit, license, or approval 
        related to that project based on the environmental 
        review and prohibits the lead agency from acting upon, 
        responding to, or including in any document prepared 
        under NEPA any comment submitted by a participating 
        agency that concerns matters outside of such agency's 
        authority and expertise;

        (8) Limposes a 1-year deadline for issuing a finding of 
        no significant impact or a Notice of Intent to Prepare 
        an Environmental Impact Statement and a 2-year deadline 
        for completing an environmental impact statement for 
        projects that require such analyses; and

        (9) Limposes deadlines for decisions required under any 
        other Federal law relating to the undertaking of a 
        project being reviewed under NEPA.

                               BACKGROUND

    Signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, NEPA 
was one of the first environmental statutes enacted in 
recognition of the importance of the environment and the need 
to have a coordinated regulatory response by Federal agencies 
charged with reviewing proposed undertakings requiring Federal 
funding or approval. As a representative on behalf of the 
Natural Resources Defense Council testified at the hearing on a 
substantively similar version of H.R. 348 in the 113th 
Congress, NEPA ``protects our health, our homes, and our 
environment.''\6\ For more than 40 years, it has emphasized 
```smart from the start' Federal decision making'' through an 
inherently democratic process that empowers ``the public, 
including citizens, local officials, landowners, industry, and 
taxpayers'' to weigh in on these decisions.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\The Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act 
of 2013: Hearing on H.R. 2641 Before the Subcomm. on Regulatory Reform, 
Commercial and Antitrust Law of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 113th 
Cong. (2013) (prepared testimony of Scott Slesinger, Legislative 
Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council).
    \7\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Approximately 85 agencies are subject to NEPA and must 
thereby consider the environmental impact of these undertakings 
and involve the public and other agencies. The Act's procedural 
requirements specify that agencies must take a ``hard look,'' 
but environmental factors do not necessarily trump all other 
considerations.
    The NEPA process consists of a three-tiered evaluation of 
the environmental effects of a Federal action that must be 
conducted by the lead agency, which is the agency that has 
ultimate authority to prepare the evaluation. The first type of 
evaluation consists of an administrative determination by the 
agency that the proposed action can be categorically excluded 
from a detailed environmental analysis if it meets certain 
criteria previously determined to have no significant 
environmental impact.\8\ Annually, the number of these 
determinations may be in the millions as the vast amount of 
undertakings subject to NEPA fall within this category.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\42 U.S.C. Sec. 4321 (2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If a proposed undertaking cannot be categorically excluded, 
i.e., it has some level of environmental impact, then the 
Federal agency must prepare a written environmental assessment 
(EA) to determine whether or not a Federal action would 
significantly affect the environment. Annually, the number of 
EAs can range from 30,000 to 50,000. Where such action would 
not significantly impact the environment, then the agency 
issues a finding of no significant impact (FONSI), which can 
include measures that an agency must take to mitigate 
potentially significant impacts.\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Where the proposed action presents significant 
environmental consequences, a draft and final environmental 
impact statements (EIS) must be prepared that provides a more 
detailed evaluation of such action and alternatives.\10\ The 
EIS is prepared by an agency (referred to as the ``lead 
agency'') or outside contractor who must file a financial 
disclosure form disclosing any conflicts of interest. Other 
Federal agencies, the public, and outside parties may provide 
input into the preparation of an EIS and then comment on the 
draft EIS when it is completed.\11\ Annually, the number of 
EISs approximate 500.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\U.S. Dep't of Environmental Protection, National Environmental 
Policy Act--Basic Information, available at http://www.epa.gov/
compliance/basics/nepa.html (last visited April 2, 2015).
    \11\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    An EIS must meet certain specified requirements, including 
the preparation of a purpose and need statement, which provides 
the foundation of the review. The statement must also identify 
all reasonable alternatives to the proposed action that would 
satisfy the need for it. For each alternative, the EIS must 
consider its environmental, socioeconomic, and cumulative 
effect and impact, in addition to numerous other steps that a 
lead agency must undertake.\12\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\Responsibilities of lead agencies include: publication of a 
public notice of intent, scoping (identification of issues that are 
important to analyze in the EIS, including interagency concerns), 
appointing agencies that should participate in the environmental review 
process, issuing a draft EIS that is then published in the Federal 
Register with a minimum of a 45-day public review and comment period, 
responding to all substantive comments at the end of the comment 
period, publishing a 30-day notice of the availability of a final EIS 
that includes a summary of the comments and responses thereto, and 
rendering a final decision. Various factors can affect these 
requirements and their timeliness, including delays in funding, changes 
in circumstances, or changes in the state or Federal administrations. 
In addition, there may be a need to publish a supplemental EIS. Should 
there be a dispute, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has a 
referral process.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In preparing an environmental review under NEPA, the lead 
agency must consider a host of factors, including the economic 
impact of the undertaking; the proposed action's effect on 
historical preservation efforts; and various environmental 
laws, such as the Endangered Species Act.\13\ Undertakings can 
include an array of agencies, including the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, and the Department of Transportation, which may have 
their own regulations. The lead agency must also consider 
alternatives to the proposed undertaking.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \13\16 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 1531 et seq. (2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    As part of this review process, the lead agency seeks 
feedback from cooperating agencies. These agencies--such as 
state, local or tribal governmental entities--are required by 
law to have an interest or that have special expertise in the 
proposed undertaking. Regulations have been promulgated to 
determine who qualifies as a cooperating agency and what such 
agency must do.
    NEPA established the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 
to oversee the Act's Implementation.\14\ Located within the 
Executive Office of the President, the DEQ's members are 
appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the 
Senate.\15\ The CEQ is charged with: (1) analyzing and 
interpreting ``environmental trends and information of all 
kinds;'' (2) appraising ``programs and activities of the 
Federal Government in the light of the policy set forth'' in 
NEPA; (3) being ``conscious of and responsive to the 
scientific, economic, social, esthetic, and cultural needs and 
interests of the Nation;'' (4) and formulating and recommending 
``national policies to promote the improvement of the quality 
of the environment.''\16\ NEPA further enumerates the CEQ's 
specific duties.\17\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \14\42 U.S.C. Sec. 4321 (2015).
    \15\42 U.S.C. Sec. 4342 (2015).
    \16\Id.
    \17\42 U.S.C. Sec. 4344 (2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1978, the CEQ promulgated regulations to implement NEPA 
that are binding on all Federal agencies.\18\ It has also 
issued guidance ``on various aspects'' of these regulations, 
which included ``an information document on `Forty Most Asked 
Questions Concerning CEQ's National Environmental Policy Act,' 
Scoping Guidance, and Guidance Regarding NEPA 
Regulations.''\19\ In turn, most Federal agencies have issued 
their own implementing regulations and guidance tailored to 
such agencies' specific mission and activities.\20\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \18\40 CFR Parts 1500-1508 (2015).
    \19\U.S. Dep't of Environmental Protection, supra note 10.
    \20\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From time to time, the CEQ has also issued guidance for 
Federal agencies to clarify the requirements of NEPA and CEQ's 
regulations.\21\ For example, the CEQ issued guidance in 2012 
consisting of a series of principles intended to improve the 
process for preparing efficient and timely environmental 
reviews under NEPA.\22\ And, last year, the CEQ published two 
handbooks to ``encourage more efficient environmental reviews 
under NEPA by integrating the NEPA process with the review 
processes of the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 
and the California Environmental Quality Act.''\23\ According 
to CEQ, these handbooks ``will facilitate quicker, more 
informed Federal decision-making on projects that impact 
American communities and help agencies improve efficiency, 
maximize staff resources, and reduce costs.''\24\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \21\See, e.g., Memorandum from Nancy H. Sutley, Chair, Council on 
Environmental Quality, Executive Office of the President, to heads of 
Federal departments and agencies, at 2, 5-14 (Mar. 6, 2012) (requiring 
that environmental reviews are ``written in plain language,'' that 
agencies avoid duplication through integrated decisionmaking, scoping, 
and collaboration with local, state, and tribal governments where 
permissible). ``Scoping'' is defined as ``an early and open process for 
determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the 
significant issues related to a proposed action.'' 40 C.F.R. 
Sec. 1501.7 (2015).
    \22\Id.
    \23\The White House--Council on Environmental Quality, Steps to 
Modernize and Reinvigorate NEPA, available at http://
www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initatives/nepa (last visited 
April 2, 2015).
    \24\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                         CONCERNS WITH H.R. 348

    H.R. 348 imposes a series of highly problematic review and 
approval requirements for agencies responsible for approving 
construction projects that are federally funded or that require 
Federal approval. These new requirements are a solution in 
search of a problem because NEPA has already provided, for more 
than 40 years, an effective framework for all types of proposed 
actions, not just construction projects. Further, the CEQ, to 
ensure compliance with NEPA, has issued regulations and 
guidance to ensure efficiency and fairness in permitting that 
make measures such as H.R. 348 unnecessary.
    The complex remedy that this legislation applies to a 
perceived problem will create real problems in the permit 
approval process. In fact, H.R. 348 will lead to more 
litigation and delay rather than streamlining the permit 
approval process. It will also create a parallel universe of 
regulatory requirements that would pertain only to certain 
types of projects. Most importantly, it will shift more control 
of the approval process to private interests and away from the 
Federal agencies that are charged with protecting public health 
and safety.

         I. THE RAPID ACT IS A SOLUTION IN SEARCH OF A PROBLEM

    While not perfect, NEPA works very well. The vast majority 
of projects requiring Federal approval go through the NEPA 
process in a timely manner. Of the remaining projects that 
actually require a formal environmental review leading to an 
EIS or EA because of the complexity of the issues they present, 
NEPA provides flexibility to permit careful review without 
artificial deadlines.
    To the extent that the RAPID Act is intended to reduce 
delays in the conduct of environmental reviews of Federal 
projects, it is aimed at the wrong target. Broadly speaking, 
the bill attempts to short-circuit the existing environmental 
review processes under NEPA and its implementing regulations. 
As Dinah Bear, who served as the CEQ's General Counsel for 25 
years during the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George 
W. Bush administrations observed, most delays in the 
environmental review processes are caused by factors other than 
NEPA or are justified by the nature of the project in question. 
Specifically, she noted:

        [T]he principal causes of unjustified delay in 
        implementing the NEPA review process are inadequate 
        agency resources, inadequate training, inadequate 
        leadership in implementing conflict dispute resolution 
        mechanisms (both internal and interagency), and lack of 
        coordination between Federal agencies and agencies at 
        the county, tribal and state level, including and in 
        particular coordinated, single environmental review 
        processes in cases where government agencies at other 
        levels have environmental review procedures. Causes of 
        justified delay include the complexity of proposed 
        projects and the associated impacts of them, changes in 
        the proposed project, the extent and nature of public 
        controversy, changes in budget and policy direction, 
        including Congressional oversight, and new 
        information.\25\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \25\Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) 
Act of 2012: Hearing on H.R. 4377 Before the Subcomm. on Courts, 
Commercial and Admin. L. of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 112th Cong. 
193 (2012) (response of Dinah Bear to questions for the record from 
Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Cohen) (emphases in the original).

Amit Narang, Regulatory Policy Advocate for Public Citizen, 
similarly noted in his testimony on H.R. 348 that this bill is 
founded ``on the assumption that agency compliance with NEPA 
analyses is a primary cause for delay in approving permits,'' 
but this view ``ignores the many factors external to the NEPA 
analytical process that also impact the timing of a permit 
approval.''\26\ In a similar vein, the Congressional Research 
Service, in an April 2012 report on the environmental review 
process for federally funded highway projects questioned 
whether the NEPA compliance process is a significant source of 
delay. The reported noted that:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \26\Hearing on H.R. 348, the ``Responsibly And Professionally 
Invigorating Development Act of 2015'' (RAPID Act); H.R. 712, the 
``Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2015''; and, 
H.R. 1155, the ``Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are 
Unnecessarily Burdensome Act of 2015'' (SCRUB Act) Before the Subcomm. 
on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law of the H. Comm. on 
the Judiciary, 114th Cong. 10 (2015) (statement of Amit Narang, 
Regulatory Policy Advocate, Public Citizen).

        The majority of [Federal Highway Administration]-
        approved projects required limited documentation or 
        analyses under NEPA. Further, when environmental 
        requirements have caused project delays, requirements 
        established under laws other than NEPA have generally 
        been the source. This calls into question the degree to 
        which the NEPA compliance process is a significant 
        source of delay in completing either the environmental 
        review process or overall project delivery. Causes of 
        delay that have been identified are more often tied to 
        local/state and project-specific factors, primarily 
        local/state agency priorities, project funding levels, 
        local opposition to a project, project complexity, or 
        late changes in project scope. Further, approaches that 
        have been found to expedite environmental reviews 
        involve procedures that local and state transportation 
        agencies may implement currently, such as efficient 
        coordination of interagency involvement; early and 
        continued involvement with stakeholders interested in 
        the project; and identifying environmental issues and 
        requirements early in project development.\27\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \27\Linda Luther, Cong. Research Serv., R42479, The Role of the 
Environmental Review Process in Federally Funded Highway Projects: 
Background and Issues for Congress (2012).

In light of the foregoing, the RAPID Act's focus on upending 
the NEPA review process for construction projects is, at best, 
misplaced.

 II. THE RAPID ACT TILTS THE APPROVAL PROCESS IN FAVOR OF THE PRIVATE 
                SECTOR AND IMPOSES UNREALISTIC DEADLINES

    One of the most critical concerns presented by the RAPID 
Act is that many of its provisions will give project proponents 
more control of the approval process, which presents serious 
public health and safety concerns. For example, new section 
560(c) would permit the project sponsor to prepare any document 
for purposes of an environmental review. This represents a 
fundamental shift in control of the review process from the 
agency to the private sector particularly with respect to EISs. 
While under NEPA the project sponsor may retain the services of 
an independent contractor to prepare certain documents, the 
contractual arrangement is between the agency and the 
contractor, and the contractor must complete a financial 
disclosure statement disclosing any conflicts of interest. As a 
representative on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense 
Council testified at the hearing on a substantively similar 
version H.R. 348 in the 113th Congress, new section 560(c) 
threatens to blur the important distinctions between lead 
agencies and project sponsors in the permitting process:

        [P]rojects that require an environmental impact 
        statement (EIS) are those that by definition may have 
        genuinely significant impacts. Government agencies, 
        whether at the Federal, state, tribal or local level, 
        are structured to represent the public and are 
        accountable to the public through a variety of 
        mechanisms. Corporations have legitimately different 
        responsibilities to their shareholders. Both the public 
        at large and corporate shareholders have the right to 
        expect these respective sectors to behave in ways that 
        are responsible about those distinctions. . . . 
        However, the law has always wisely drawn a line between 
        private sector and public project proponent involvement 
        when the proposed action is one that triggers the 
        statutory requirement for a ``detailed statement'' for 
        proposed actions significantly affecting the quality of 
        the human environment, that is, an EIS. In that 
        situation--a very small percentage of the thousands of 
        actions falling under NEPA annually--the distinction 
        between private sector project proponents and 
        government agencies is drawn more sharply. Private 
        sector project proponents are not permitted to prepare 
        EISs. Any contractor selected by the agency to prepare 
        the EIS must execute a disclosure statement prepared by 
        the lead agency specifying that it has no financial or 
        other interest in the outcome of the project. 40 C.F.R. 
        Sec. 1506.5(c). Obviously, a private sector project 
        sponsor inherently has a financial interest in the 
        project.\28\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \28\The Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act 
of 2013: Hearing on H.R. 2641 Before the Subcomm. on Regulatory Reform, 
Commercial and Antitrust Law of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 113th 
Cong. 4-5 (2013) (prepared testimony of Scott Slesinger, Legislative 
Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council).

    Another concern is that the bill imposes certain deadlines 
by which the environmental review must be complete. The failure 
of an agency to meet these deadlines could result in the 
project being deemed approved pursuant to new section 
560(i)(4)(C). The bill also prohibits a court from setting 
aside such action on grounds that it was deemed approved 
pursuant to new section 560(i)(4)(D)).
    To address these problems with the bill, House Judiciary 
Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) offered an 
amendment during Committee consideration of the legislation 
that would have ensured sufficient opportunity for public 
participation in this process.\29\ His amendment would have 
made certain that ``the ultimate decision made by these 
agencies for these projects are well informed.''\30\ His 
amendment, however, failed by a party-line vote of 10 to 
15.\31\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \29\Tr. of Markup of H.R. 348, ``the Responsibly and Professionally 
Invigorating Development Act of 2015,'' by the H. Comm. on the 
Judiciary, 114th Cong. 58 (March 24, 2015), http://
judiciary.house.gov/_cache/files/26476c04-a8fb-48a1-96cc-914ea82f001c/
03.24.15-markup-transcript.pdf [hereinafter Markup Tr.]
    \30\Id. at 67.
    \31\Id. at 144.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 III. THE RAPID ACT ESTABLISHES A REGULATORY APPROVAL SCHEME THAT WILL 
                 CAUSE CONFUSION, DELAY, AND LITIGATION

    NEPA applies to a vast panoply of Federal actions, such as 
management plans; fishing, hunting, and grazing permits; 
Defense Department Base Realignment and Closures activities; 
and treaties. In contrast, the RAPID Act would apply to an 
inexact subset of these actions, namely, construction projects, 
which the bill itself does not define. In fact, the bill may 
apply to only part of an undertaking. Consider the construction 
of a new nuclear reactor facility. The RAPID Act would apply to 
the building phase of the project, but not to the 
decommissioning aspect of the projects or to the transportation 
and storage aspects of spent fuel. Thus, agencies charged with 
regulating the reactor would be forced to apply two distinct 
sets of law to one undertaking.
    In addition, the RAPID Act borrows a variety of concepts 
from NEPA, but ignores others. It also incorporates modified 
versions of still other NEPA provisions. For example, new 
section 560(b) defines various terms, some of which are 
identical to how they are defined in NEPA, but other 
definitions in the bill differ from NEPA. Likewise, new section 
560(g)(2)(B) requires consideration, under certain 
circumstances, of whether alternatives to the project are 
``economically feasible,'' a new and undefined term. As a 
result, courts will be required to interpret new terminology 
and requirements without the benefit of any precedent.
    Yet another concern presented by the bill is that it has 
internal inconsistences. For example, new section 560(d)(1) 
states that the lead agency must prepare the EIS and EA, but 
section 560(c) allows the project sponsor to prepare any 
document for purposes of an environmental review, subject to 
certain standards. In addition to creating needless confusion 
in the permitting process through competing standards, this 
provision risks blurring the distinct roles of lead agencies, 
which are charged with protecting the public interest, and 
project sponsors, which are responsible for maximizing 
shareholder value.\32\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \32\See infra Part II; Letter from Bill Snape, Senior Counsel, 
Center for Biological Diversity, et al. to Members of the H. Committee 
on the Judiciary (Mar. 24, 2015) (on file with the H. Committee on the 
Judiciary, Democratic Staff).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Further, the bill would import state law into the Federal 
approval process. New section 560(d)(2) would direct the lead 
agency to adopt a document prepared for a project under state 
law if such law and the state's procedure are ``substantially 
equivalent to NEPA.'' First, it is unclear why a state approval 
process would even apply in a context that concerns a Federal 
project context. NEPA ensures that the Federal Government is 
regulating its own actions. Thus it does not make sense to 
allow an entity that is bound by state law to bind the Federal 
Government. Second, it is important to keep in mind that few 
states have meaningful environmental laws. Third, the bill 
requires the lead agency to adopt a state environmental review 
even if it was poorly executed, providing the state's law and 
review process is ``substantially'' equivalent to NEPA.
    The bill also presents the potential for numerous 
unintended consequences. For example, new section 560(d)(1) 
prohibits a lead agency from issuing more than one EIS or EA, 
ostensibly to streamline the review process. In practice, 
however, the bill fails to take into account the reality that a 
new EIS or EA may be clearly warranted in instances where: (1) 
the original environmental document was found to be incorrect; 
(2) a court directs the preparation of a new EIS or EA; or (3) 
a settlement agreement resolves pending litigation by requiring 
the issuance of a new EIS or EA. Another provision in the bill, 
section 560(c) would force more participants to be formally 
involved in the commenting process at the risk of being 
precluded from offering comments as a nonparticipating agency. 
This requirement could unnecessarily inflate the number of 
participants and thereby slow down the review process.
    Proponents of this legislation have argued that this 
requirement to use state environmental documents is similar to 
provisions in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient 
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).\33\ 
There are, however, significant differences. Under SAFETEA-LU, 
a pilot project was established for only five states\34\ to 
undertake Federal NEPA standards that required the states to 
waive their immunity from suit.\35\ Moreover, while more than 
one-half of these states have laws somewhat similar to NEPA, 
only a few of these have laws are substantially equivalent to 
NEPA. In contrast, H.R. 348 would broadly apply to all 
construction projects that are federally funded or that require 
Federal approval.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \33\The Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act 
of 2013: Hearing on H.R. 2641 Before the Subcomm. on Regulatory Reform, 
Commercial and Antitrust Law of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 113th 
Cong. (2013) (prepared testimony of William L. Kovacs, Senior Vice 
President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce) (``[S]treamlining provisions in 
SAFETEA-LU and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have yielded 
positive and substantial results.''); Pub. L. No. 109-59 (2005), 119 
Stat. 1144 (as amended).
    \34\Pub. L. No. 109-59, Title VI, Sec. 6005, 119 Stat. 1868-72, 
codified at 23 U.S.C. Sec. 327(b) (2006).
    \35\Pub. L. No. 109-59, Title VI, Sec. 6005, codified at 23 U.S.C. 
Sec. 327(c)(3) (2006).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Finally, the RAPID Act would generate confusion because it 
includes these amendments in the Administrative Procedure Act, 
which applies to all Federal agencies, even though the bill 
only applies to agencies subject to environmental law 
requirements, which do not implicate the APA.

 IV. THE RAPID ACT FORECLOSES MEANINGFUL PUBLIC AND GOVERNMENTAL INPUT 
                      AND IMPOSES RIGID DEADLINES

    Several provisions in the RAPID Act will limit meaningful 
input from other government agencies and restrict public 
comment and judicial review. For example, the lead agency is 
prohibited from considering comments supplied by an agency if 
the agency did not become a participating agency pursuant to 
new section 560(d)(4). There are many reasons why an agency may 
decline to be a participating agency, but the bill cuts off 
their ability to provide helpful input. Similarly, the bill 
prevents a lead agency from considering any untimely comments, 
even if they provide meaningful insight.
    The RAPID Act ignores various opportunities under NEPA that 
agencies have to develop a robust record with input from the 
public, such as scoping, public meetings, and responding to 
comments received from the public. For example, new section 
560(g) requires the lead agency to have cooperating agencies 
involved in determining the range of alternatives to be 
considered for a project, but is silent about public input. 
NEPA, on the other hand, requires agencies to go into the area 
and hold public hearings as well as solicit public input. As a 
result of these and other restrictions, the bill would enable 
agencies to approve projects without sufficient feedback and 
analysis.
    With respect to the bill's deadlines for projects subject 
to review under NEPA, the impact of these time frames in many 
instances may be nominal because many environmental reviews do 
not take much time. On the other hand, very complicated and 
complex projects could require extended review periods that 
would exceed the deadlines set forth in new section 560(i).
    To highlight these concerns about the bill, Representative 
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) offered an amendment that would have 
exempted from the bill any construction project for a nuclear 
facility planned to be built in an area designated in an 
earthquake fault zone.\36\ Unfortunately, his amendment was 
rejected by a party-line vote of 10 to 18.\37\ Similarly, 
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) offered an amendment 
that would have exempted from the bill construction projects 
that could be potential targets for terrorist attacks or 
involve chemical facilities and other critical 
infrastructure.\38\ This amendment failed along party lines by 
a vote of 10 to 16.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \36\Markup Tr., supra note 29, at 13.
    \37\Id. at 34-35.
    \38\Id. at 35-36.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subsection (k) further forecloses meaningful government 
review by prohibiting the consideration of the social cost of 
carbon (SCC) by a lead agency in any environmental review or 
decisionmaking.\39\ A number of respected environmental 
groups--including the League of Conservation Voters, Natural 
Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, and the Sierra Club--
oppose this provision, noting that the EPA and other Federal 
agencies use SCC as a critical tool ``to estimate the economic 
damages associated with specific projects and their related 
carbon dioxide emissions,'' and that without it, the bill 
undermines the public's ability to ``understand the true 
benefits and costs of a project.''\40\ Moreover, these 
environmental groups note that subsection (k) overlooks the 
impact of climate change on the area surrounding a project, 
which poses risks to ``critical infrastructure, tax payer 
dollars, and local communities.''\41\ To address this concern, 
Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) offered an amendment that 
would strike subsection (k), thereby allowing lead agencies to 
consider SCC while preparing environmental documents pursuant 
to NEPA.\42\ Speaking in support of his amendment, Rep. Peters 
noted that ``accounting for the social cost of carbon and 
preparing for climate change is a smart business 
practice.''\43\ Rep. Nadler added in support of the amendment 
that ``to simply say categorically an entire environmental area 
may not be looked at is putting our heads in the sand, if there 
is any sand left,'' demonstrating the ``radical nature of this 
legislation.''\44\ The Peters amendment failed along party 
lines by a vote of 11 to 13.\45\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \39\Subsection (k) was adopted as a floor amendment offered by Rep. 
David McKinley (R-WV) to the bill during its consideration in the 113th 
Congress. In essence, the social cost of carbon estimates the social 
and economic benefits of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
    \40\Letter from Bill Snape, Senior Counsel, Center for Biological 
Diversity, et al. to Members of the H. Committee on the Judiciary 2 
(Mar. 24, 2015) (on file with the H. Committee on the Judiciary, 
Democratic Staff).
    \41\Id.
    \42\Markup Tr., supra note 29, at 68.
    \43\Id. at 69.
    \44\Id. at 76.
    \45\Id. at 82.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     V. THE RAPID ACT FUNDAMENTALLY SHORT CIRCUITS THE PROCESS FOR 
                  CONSIDERING REASONABLE ALTERNATIVES

    The requirement that agencies analyze and consider 
reasonable alternatives that fulfill the purpose of and need 
for the proposed action has long been considered the heart of 
the NEPA process. Without a genuine consideration of 
alternatives, the NEPA process loses its primary value in 
influencing decision making and becomes a process that simply 
analyzes the effects of a decision already made. It is 
important to remember that under current law, alternatives can 
be proposed by anyone, inside or outside the lead agency, and 
that agencies are obligated to analyze the alternative of not 
approving a proposed project just as robustly as the 
alternative of approving the proposed project and reasonable 
alternatives to it.\46\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \46\40 C.F.R. Sec. 1502.14 (2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The RAPID Act fundamentally alters this essential 
requirement in at least two ways. First, subsection (g)(4) 
permits a lead agency to develop the preferred alternative to a 
higher level of detail than other alternatives if the agency 
determines that such analysis will not prevent it from making 
an impartial decision as to whether to accept another 
alternative. Developing one alternative to a higher level of 
detail than others inevitably raises the risk that the 
preferred alternative will be more likely to be approved than 
others, including the alternative of non-approval.
    Second, the various provisions that mandate ``approval by 
default'' if deadlines are not met, as well as the provision in 
subsection (j)(1) requiring resolution of issues that ``could 
result in denial of any approvals,'' all demonstrate a bias 
towards project approval. While project approval may well be 
the optimum result in many situations, Congress should not be 
weighing in across the spectrum of almost a hundred Federal 
agencies to dictate in advance that all proposed projects are 
worthy of approval, no matter what their impacts might be to 
the environment, to affected citizens, and to the public 
fisc.\47\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \47\The RAPID Act tilts the balance of the environmental review and 
permit approval processes in favor of project sponsors in other ways 
too. For example, new section 560(i)(4)(C) would deem permits or 
licenses approved if an agency does not meet certain deadlines under 
the bill, rather than allowing agencies the time necessary to make an 
informed decision on a permit or license application. Moreover, the 
bill prohibits a court from setting aside such action pursuant to new 
section 560(i)(4)(D)), denying affected parties the right to challenge 
a ``deemed'' approval and placing the interests of private sector 
actors above those of other stakeholders in the environmental review 
and permit approval processes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Representative Sheila Jackson Lee offered an amendment that 
would have deleted the bill's problematic ``deemed approved'' 
provision.\48\ The amendment, however, failed by a party-line 
vote of 9 to 16.\49\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \48\Markup Tr., supra note 29, at 36.
    \49\Id. at 44.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

               SECTION-BY-SECTION EXPLANATION OF H.R. 348

    H.R. 348 adds a new section 560 to the APA. The following 
explanation details each subsection of new section 560.
    Subsection (a) sets forth a congressional declaration of 
purpose, stating this measure is intended to establish a 
framework and procedures to streamline agency administration of 
the regulatory review, environmental decision making, and 
permitting process for projects undertaken, reviewed, or funded 
by Federal agencies. The scope of this provision is extremely 
extensive, as it is not limited to environmental actions by 
agencies. In addition, subsection (a) states that the measure 
is intended to ensure that agencies administer the regulatory 
process in a manner that is efficient ``so that citizens are 
not burdened with regulatory excuses and time delays.'' It is 
unclear what would constitute a ``regulatory'' excuse.
    Subsection (b) defines various terms, such as environmental 
assessment (EA), environmental impact statement (EIS), and a 
finding of no significant impact (FONSI).\50\ An environmental 
document (ED), for example, means an EA or an EIS. The term 
``project'' is defined here as ``major Federal actions that are 
construction activities undertaken with Federal funds or that 
require approval by a permit or regulatory decision issued by a 
Federal agency.'' As a result, the bill effectively applies 
only to construction projects that are either federally-funded 
or that require Federal approval, notwithstanding the fact that 
NEPA applies to construction projects as well as a broad range 
of activities, including management plans; fishing, hunting, 
and grazing permits; and Defense Department Base Realignment 
and Closures activities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \50\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subsection (c) defines ``project sponsor'' as including an 
agency, private entity, or public-private entity that seeks 
approval for a project or otherwise is responsible for 
undertaking a project. A project is, in turn, defined as major 
Federal actions that are construction activities undertaken 
with Federal funds or that require approval by a permit or 
regulatory decision by a Federal agency.
    Upon request of the lead agency (LA), which is the Federal 
agency responsible for preparing an EA or EIS, the project 
sponsor is authorized to prepare any document for purposes of 
an environmental review required in support of any project. 
This applies if such agency: (1) furnishes oversight in the 
preparation of such document; (2) independently evaluates it; 
and (3) approves and adopts such document prior to taking or 
making any approval based on such document.
    Subsection (d)(1)(A) provides that only one EIS and one EA 
may be prepared for a project and that only the LA may prepare 
these documents. After the LA issues a record of decision, no 
Federal agency responsible for making any approval for that 
project may rely on a document other than the ED prepared by 
the LA. It is unclear, however, what would happen if an EIS or 
EA is later found to be defective and the LA, pursuant to a 
settlement agreement, is required to issue a new EIS or EA.
    Subsection (d)(1)(B) requires the LA to adopt, use or rely 
on secondary and cumulative impact analyses included in any ED 
prepared under NEPA for projects in the same geographic area 
where the secondary and cumulative impact analyses provide 
information and data that pertains to the NEPA decision for the 
project under review.
    Subsection (d)(2)(A) requires the LA, upon request of a 
project sponsor, to adopt a document prepared for a project 
under state law and procedures as the EIS or EA for the 
project, if such law and procedures provide environmental 
protection and opportunities for public involvement that are 
substantially equivalent to NEPA. This provision could generate 
litigation as to whether a state law or procedure is 
``substantially equivalent'' to NEPA, although section (c)(1) 
of the bill may address this concern.
    Subsection(d)(2)(B) specifies that an ED adopted pursuant 
to the above is deemed to satisfy the LA's obligation under 
NEPA to prepare an EIS or EA.
    Subsection (d)(2)(C) requires the LA--after preparation of 
such ED, but before its adoption by the agency--to prepare and 
publish a supplement to such ED if the agency determines that 
there has been a significant change to the project that is 
relevant to the environmental review of such project or there 
has been significant changes in the information relevant to the 
environmental review of the project.
    Subsection (d)(2)(D) provides that if the agency prepares 
and publishes a supplemental document (as described above), the 
agency may solicit comments from agencies and the public on 
such document for a period not to exceed 30 days from 
publication of the supplement.
    Subsection (d)(2)(E) requires a LA to issue its record of 
decision or FONSI based on the document adopted pursuant to 
subsection (d)(2)(A) and any supplements thereto. If the LA 
determines that there is a reasonable likelihood that the 
project will have similar environmental impacts as a similar 
project in geographical proximity to the project, subsection 
(d)(3) authorizes the LA to adopt the ED that resulted from the 
environmental review of such similar project if it was subject 
to environmental review or similar state procedures within the 
5-year period immediately preceding the date on which the 
agency made such determination. The LA may adopt such ED if it 
is prepared under state law and procedures only after making a 
favorable determination on such ED pursuant to subsection 
(d)(2)(A). This provision does not require the state law or 
procedure to be substantially similar to NEPA.
    Subsection (e)(1) requires the LA to be responsible for 
inviting and designating participating agencies in accordance 
with subsection (e) and such invitation and notice of 
desgination must be in writing.
    Subsection (e)(2) provides that a Federal agency required 
to adopt the ED of the LA for a project must be designated as a 
participating agency and collaborate in the preparation of the 
ED, unless the agency informs the LA in writing by a time 
specified by the LA that such agency: (1) has no jurisdiction 
or authority with respect to the project; (2) has no expertise 
or information relevant to the project; and (3) does not intend 
to submit comments on the project. It would appear that these 
requirements should be in the alternative.
    Subsection (e)(3) requires the LA to identify and invite as 
early as possible in the environmental review for a project any 
other agencies (other than those described in paragraph (2)) 
that may have an interest in the project, including governors 
of affected states. Such invitation must set a 30-day deadline 
for responses to be submitted and such period may be extended 
by the LA for good cause shown. Any agency that fails to 
respond prior to the deadline is deemed to have declined the 
invitation.
    Subsection (e)(4) pertains to an agency that declines a 
designation or invitation by a LA to be a participating agency 
(PA). It precludes such agency from submitting comments on or 
taking any measures to oppose: (1) the project, (2) any 
document prepared under NEPA for such project, and (3) any 
permit, license, or approval related to such project. This 
prohibition may preclude an agency from identifying useful 
information to the LA. The subsection also requires the LA to 
disregard and to not respond to any comment submitted by such 
agency. This appears to be a rather shortsighted provision. On 
the one hand, it could encourage various agencies, even those 
with only a peripheral interest in the project, to become a PA 
so their opportunity to comment is not foreclosed. On the other 
hand, agencies may decline to participate on an unrelated 
basis, e.g., lack of resources, but then be foreclosed from 
offering helpful comments.
    Subsection (e)(5) provides that designation as a PA does 
not imply that such agency supports a proposed project or has 
any jurisdiction over or special expertise with respect to the 
evaluation of such project.
    Subsection (e)(6) permits a LA to designate a PA as a 
cooperating agency under 40 C.F.R. part 1500. Such designation 
has no effect on the agency's designation as a PA. Only a PA 
may be designated as a cooperating agency. It is not clear, 
however, what the substantive differences are between a PA and 
a cooperating agency.
    Subsection (e)(7) requires each Federal agency to implement 
its responsibilities under otherwise applicable law 
concurrently and in conjunction with its NEPA review, and in 
accordance with the Council of Environmental Quality's rules in 
a way to ensure completion of the environmental review and 
decisionmaking process in a timely, coordinated, and 
environmentally responsible manner.
    Subsection (e)(8) requires a PA to limit its comments on a 
project to areas that are within such agency's authority and 
expertise and it must identify in such comments its statutory 
authority to make such comments. The LA cannot act upon, 
respond to, or include in any document prepared under NEPA any 
comment submitted by a PA that concerns matters outside of the 
PA's authority and expertise.
    Subsection (f)(1) requires the project sponsor to provide 
the Federal agency responsible for undertaking a project with 
notice of the initiation of the project by giving a description 
of the proposed project, its general location, and a statement 
of any Federal approvals anticipated to be necessary for the 
project for the purpose of informing the Federal agency that 
the environmental review should be initiated.
    Subsection (f)(2) requires the agency that receives the 
project initiation notice to promptly identify the LA for the 
project. In turn, the LA must initiate the environmental review 
within 45 days of receipt of such notice by inviting or 
designating agencies to become a PA. If the LA determines that 
no PA is required for the project, then it must take such other 
action that is reasonable and necessary to initiate the 
environmental review.
    Subsection (g)(1) requires the LA, as early as practicable 
during the environmental review, but no later than during 
scoping for a project requiring the preparation of an EIS, to 
give an opportunity for involvement by cooperating agencies in 
determining the range of alternatives to be considered for a 
project.
    Subsection (g)(2) requires the LA to determine the range of 
alternatives for consideration in any document that the LA is 
responsible for preparing for the project, subject to certain 
exceptions. No Federal agency may be required to evaluate any 
alternative that was identified, but not carried forward for 
detailed evaluation in an environmental document or evaluated 
and not selected in any environmental document prepared under 
NEPA for the same project.
    When a project sponsor, which is not a Federal agency, 
undertakes a project, cooperating agencies can only be required 
to evaluate alternatives that the project sponsor could 
feasibly undertake, including alternatives that can actually be 
undertaken by the project sponsor, and are technically and 
economically feasible.
    Subsection (g)(3)(A) requires the LA to determine, in 
collaboration with cooperating agencies at appropriate times 
during the environmental review, the methodologies to be used 
and the level of detail required in the analysis of each 
alternative for a project. The LA must include in the 
environmental document a description of the methodologies used 
and how they were selected.
    Pursuant to subsection (g)(3)(B), if the LA determines that 
an alternative does not meet the purpose and need for a 
project, then that alternative does not have to be evaluated in 
detail in an environmental document.
    Subsection (g)(4) permits the LA, in its discretion, to 
develop the preferred alternative for a project to a higher 
level of detail than other alternatives to facilitate the 
development of mitigation measures or concurrent compliance 
with other applicable laws if such additional detail will not 
prevent the LA from making an impartial decision as to whether 
to accept another alternative which is being considered in the 
environmental review.
    Subsection (g)(5) requires the evaluation of each 
alternative in an EIS or EA to identify the potential effects 
of such alternative on employment, including potential short-
term and long-term impacts.
    Subsection (h)(1)(A) requires the LA to establish and 
implement a plan for coordinating public and agency 
participation or comment for the environmental review for a 
project or category of projects to facilitate the expeditious 
resolution of such review.
    Subsection (h)(1)(B) requires the LA, after consultation 
with each PA and project sponsor (if applicable), to establish 
a schedule for completion of the environmental review, which 
must include deadlines for decisions under any other Federal 
laws, including the issuance or denial of a permit or license 
relating to the project that is the subject of such schedule. 
The provision itemizes a series of factors that must be 
considered in establishing the schedule. A PA must comply with 
such time periods. The LA must disregard, not respond to, or 
include in any document prepared under NEPA any comment or 
information submitted or any finding made by a PA that is 
outside of the time periods established in the schedule. If a 
PA fails to object in writing to a LA's decision, finding, or 
request for concurrence within the time period established by 
law or by the LA, the agency shall be deemed to have concurred 
in the decision, finding, or request.
    Subsection (h)(1)(C) requires the schedule as described 
above to be consistent with any other relevant time periods 
established under Federal law.
    Subsection (h)(1)(D) permits the LA to lengthen an 
established schedule for good cause. It may shorten it only 
with the concurrence of the cooperating agencies.
    Subsection (h)(1)(E) requires a copy of the schedule and 
any modification to be provided to all PAs and the project 
sponsor within 15 days of completion or modification and made 
available to the public. This provision does not specify who is 
to make the schedule available and how it is to be made 
available to the public.
    Subsection (h)(1)(F) states that the LA has the authority 
and responsibility to take such actions as are necessary and 
proper to facilitate the expeditious resolution of the 
environmental review for the project.
    Subsection (i)(1) sets forth various deadlines applicable 
to any project subject to review under NEPA and any decision 
under Federal law relating to such project (including the 
issuance or denial of a permit or license or any required 
finding. For a project requiring an EIA, the LA has 2 years to 
issue a record of decision from the earlier of the date on 
which the LA receives the project initiation request or a 
Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS is published in the Federal 
Register. Where the LA has prepared an ES and determined that 
an EIS is required, the LA must issue a record of decision 
within 2 years from the date of publication of the Notice of 
Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in the 
Federal Register.
    For a project requiring an EA, the LA must issue a FONSI or 
publish a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS in the Federal 
Register within 1 year after the earlier of the date the LA 
receives the project initiation request, makes a decision to 
prepare an EA, or sends out PA invitations.
    Subsection (i)(2) these deadlines to be extended only if 
tje LA, project sponsor and PA agree or the LA determines that 
such extension is needed for good cause. The extension for a 
project requiring an EIS cannot be more than 1 year. The limit 
for an EA is 180 days.
    Subsection (i)(3) pertains to environmental review 
comments. With respect to comments by agencies and the public 
on a draft EIS, the LA must establish a comment period not 
longer than 60 days after publication in the Federal Register 
of notice of the date of public availability of such EIS, 
unless a different deadline is established by agreement of the 
LA, project sponsor, and PA, or the deadline is extended by the 
LA for good cause. For all other comment periods for agency or 
public comments in the environmental review process, the LA 
must establish a period that does not exceed 30 days from the 
availability of the materials on which comment is requested, 
unless a different deadline is established by agreement of the 
LA, project sponsor, and PA, or if the deadline is extended by 
the LA for good cause.
    Subsection (i)(4) overrides all other laws to impose 
certain deadlines in any case in which a decision under any 
other Federal law relating to the undertaking of a project 
reviewed under NEPA. With respect to instances where a Federal 
agency must approve or make a determination or finding 
regarding a project prior to the record of decision or FONSI, 
such approval, determination, or finding must be made within 90 
days after the LA publishes a notice of the availability of the 
final EIS or issuance of other final environmental documents, 
or not later than such other date that is otherwise required by 
law, whichever occurs first. This provision may impose an 
unreasonable time frame for certain determinations.
    With respect to other decisions, a Federal agency must make 
any required approval, determination, or finding within 180 
days after the LA issues the record of decision or FOSNI, 
unless a different deadline is established by agreement of the 
Federal agency, LA, and project sponsor, or the Federal agency 
extends the deadline for good cause. This gives the project 
sponsor substanital control over the approval process. The 
extension cannot be more than 1 year after the LA issues the 
record of decision or FOSNI.
    If the Federal agency fails to approve or disapprove the 
project, or make a required finding or determination with the 
applicable deadlines, the project shall be deemed approved by 
such agency and the agency must issue any required permit or 
make any required finding or determination authorizing the 
project to proceed within 30 days of such deadline. This 
provision would be problematic for very complex projects that 
require additional time for review.
    Subsection (j)(1) requires the LA and PA to work 
cooperatively to identify and resolve issues that could delay 
completion of the environmental review or could result in 
denial of any approvals required for the project under 
applicable law. What happens if the PA does not work 
cooperatively?
    Subsection (j)(2) requires the LA to make information 
available to a PA as early as practicable in the environmental 
review regarding the environmental, historic, and socioeconomic 
resources located within the project area and the general 
locations of alternatives under consideration. Such information 
may be based on existing data sources, including geographic 
information systems mapping.
    Subsection (j)(3) requires the PA, based on information 
received from the LA, to identify as early as practicable any 
issue of concern regarding the project's potential 
environmental, historic, or socioeconomic impacts. How does 
``impacts'' compare with ``resources,'' as used in subsection 
(j)(2)? What if the PAs concerns are not based on information 
provided by the LA? The provision specifies that issues of 
concern include any issues that could substantially delay or 
prevent an agency from granting a permit or other approval 
needed for the project.
    Subsection (j)(4) requires the LA, upon request of a 
project sponsor, to promptly convene a meeting with the 
relevant PAs and the project sponsor to resolve issues that 
could delay completion of the environmental review or could 
result in denial of any approvals required for such project. If 
a resolution cannot be achieved within 30 days following such 
meeting and a determination by the LA that all information 
necessary to resolve the issue has been obtained, the LA must 
notify all PAs, the project sponsor, and the CEQ for further 
proceedings in accordance with section 204 of NEPA and shall 
publish such notification in the Federal Register.
    Subsection (k) prohibits the consideration by a LA in any 
environmental review or decision making of the social cost of 
carbon.
    Subsection (l) requires each Federal agency to report 
annually to Congress on the following: (1) the projects for 
which the agency initiated the preparation of an EIS or EA; (2) 
projects for which the agency issued a record of decision or 
FOSNI and the length of time it took for the agency to complete 
the environmental review for each such project; (3) filing of 
any lawsuits against the agency seeking judicial review of a 
permit, license, or approval issued by the agency for an action 
subject to NEPA, including the date the complaint was filed, 
the court in which the complaint was filed, and a summary of 
the claims for which judicial review was sought; and (4) the 
resolution of such lawsuits.
    Subsection (m)(1) overrides all other laws to bar a claim 
for judicial review of a permit, license, or approval issued by 
a Federal agency for an action subject to NEPA, unless certain 
criteria apply. Judicial review is available for a claim 
pertaining to a project for which an environmental review was 
conducted, if such claim is filed by a party that submitted a 
comment during the environmental review on the issue on which 
the party seeks judicial review and such comment was 
sufficiently detailed to put the LA on notice of the issue. In 
addition, the claim must be filed within 180 days after 
publication of a Federal Register notice announcing that the 
permit, license, or approval is final pursuant to the law under 
which the agency action is taken, unless a shorter time is 
specified in the Federal law pursuant to which judicial review 
is allowed.
    Subsection (m)(2) provides that the preparation of a 
supplemental EIS (when required) is deemed a separate final 
agency action and the deadline for filing a claim for judicial 
review of such action is 180 days after publication of a 
Federal Register notice announcing the record of decision for 
such action. Any claim challenging agency action on the basis 
of information in a supplemental EIS is limited to challenges 
on the basis of such information.
    Subsection (m)(3) specifies that nothing in subsection (l) 
may be construed to create a right to judicial review or limit 
the filing of a claim that a person has violated the terms of a 
permit, license, or approval.
    Subsection (n) provides that the authorities under 
subchapter IIA may be exercised for an individual project or 
category of projects.
    Subsection (o) specifies that the amendments made by this 
legislation apply prospectively to environmental reviews and 
environmental decision-making processes initiated after the 
date of enactment, unless such environmental reviews or 
environmental decision making processes have already been 
initiated, in which case the bill applies retroactively to 
those projects.
    Subsection (p) specifies that the amendments apply to all 
projects for which a Federal agency is required to undertake an 
environmental review or make a decision under an environmental 
law for a project for which a Federal agency is undertaking an 
environmental review or making a decision under an 
environmental law for a project for which a Federal agency is 
undertaking an environmental review.
    Section (c)(1) of the bill requires the CEQ to amend its 
regulations to implement this Act within 180 days from date of 
enactment. Also, the CEQ must designate states with laws and 
procedures that satisfy 5 U.S.C. section 560(d)(2)(A), as added 
by this Act. This time frame may not be feasible.
    Section (c)(2) of the bill requires Federal agencies with 
regulations implementing NEPA to amend such regulations within 
120 days from when the CEQ amends its regulations.

                               CONCLUSION

    H.R. 348 is based on the unproven assertion that there are 
unwarranted and extensive delays in the environmental review 
and permit approval process required by NEPA. To the contrary, 
the facts prove that NEPA provides a very workable process. 
Rather than streamline this process, the bill will create 
confusion, increased litigation, and delay. It will create a 
parallel environmental review process for an ill-defined subset 
of Federal activities; foreclose potentially meaningful input 
into the environmental review process from agencies and the 
public; and institutionalize a bias in favor of approving an 
agency's preferred alternative.
    For the foregoing reasons, we strongly urge our colleagues 
to oppose H.R. 348.

                                   Mr. Conyers, Jr.
                                   Mr. Nadler.
                                   Ms. Jackson Lee.
                                   Mr. Cohen.
                                   Mr. Johnson, Jr.
                                   Ms. Chu.
                                   Mr. Deutch.
                                   Mr. Gutierrez.
                                   Ms. Bass.
                                   Mr. Richmond.
                                   Ms. DelBene.
                                   Mr. Cicilline.

                                  [all]