Republicans Hold Yet Another Hearing to Attack a Bedrock Environmental Law that Protects Taxpayers

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of a proactively-titled full committee oversight hearing today at 2 p.m. ET, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) called out Committee Republicans for holding another in a long-running series of misleading hearings designed to undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law which gives people a voice in the federal planning process, protects the environment, and saves taxpayer money through informed decision-making. The hearing will be yet another Republican attempt to spread false information about NEPA, including claims that NEPA causes project delays and frivolous litigation, all based on undocumented and often irrelevant anecdotes. 

The size of the American economy has more than tripled since NEPA was passed in 1970, from less than $5 trillion to $18 trillion in 2016. Republican claims that NEPA kills jobs, slows down infrastructure projects, or holds up economic development are false. More than 95 percent of NEPA reviews are completed using a categorical exclusion that takes only a few days, and little if any paperwork, to complete.

Earlier this month, the White House released an infrastructure fact sheet falsely claiming the environmental review process stands in the way of major infrastructure projects. Democrats on the Committee debunked the two claims cited by the White House. The truth is that NEPA frequently saves taxpayers money.

Republican claims regarding NEPA litigation are no more credible. The number of lawsuits filed pursuant to NEPA each year hovers around 100, out of tens of thousands of projects or activities reviewed under NEPA each year. This small number of NEPA suits are typically filed by citizens seeking to make the federal government live up to its responsibilities under the law, an idea fundamental to our democracy.

“Republicans have a personal vendetta against NEPA or any bedrock environmental law that favors the American people over money-hungry, big corporate developers, Grijalva said. “It’s because of that greed that Republicans are so intent on destroying a law that saves taxpayers money, reduces local opposition and leads to better projects. It’s no big surprise that Republicans have once again sided with big businesses and are pushing to gut a commonsense law simply because it stands in industry’s way of making money.”

The Center for American Progress released an issue brief yesterday on the Trump administration’s attacks on NEPA and outlining the dangers of eviscerating the law. This issue brief reviews how three American communities were badly damaged or destroyed by federal infrastructure projects in the days before NEPA.

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