House Approves Gosar Amendment Preventing EPA Obstruction of Critical Infrastructure and Economic Development Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 6, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after the House approved his amendment early this morning which will greatly assist with streamlining the federal permitting process for Critical Infrastructure and Economic Development Projects, and attached it to the Senate Amendments to H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE) Act:

“The EPA’s reign of obstruction and incompetence continues to impose costly new regulations that defy commonsense and threaten thousands of good-paying jobs across the country. Despite not being a primary reviewing or permitting agency, intentional actions from the EPA continue to impose unnecessary permitting delays and kill jobs through the country. Our communities can’t afford to have critical infrastructure projects sabotaged by an agency that does not share the same values and priorities as the American people.

“If the intent of the Federal Permitting Improvement Council established by this bill is to actually improve the federal permitting process, then the EPA, which is not a principal permitting or reviewing agency, should not be allowed a vote to obstruct the expedited process for projects that already have a $200 million investment. Fortunately, my colleagues in the House agreed and I was pleased to see unanimous support for my amendment that will assist with the creation of thousands of jobs across the country if enacted into law. Today was a win for commonsense and put the EPA on notice that Congress and the people of this great nation will fight back against the agency’s continued overreach.”

Background:

H.R. 22 establishes a new Council for the purpose of helping streamline the federal permitting process. As constructed, the EPA is given far too big a voice on this Council—an EPA that is known for being the primary obstructionist to every significant infrastructure and economic development project in the United States. The Gosar Amendment to the Senate Amendments to H.R. 22 will assist with streamlining the federal permitting process by decimating EPA influence in the process as well as preventing this rogue agency from having a vote on the Federal Permitting Improvement Council.

It is important to note that nothing in the Gosar amendment prevents the EPA from being invited to be a participating or cooperating agency and providing information throughout this process to the Council. The Council established by this bill will be compromised by a minimum of 16 members and it takes a vote by the majority of members of the Council in order for a covered project to be entitled to expedited review. Covered projects are essentially defined in the bill as those projects with investments of $200 million or more.

A new report issued by the National Association of Environmental Professionals released last week found, that “It took agencies an average of 1,709 days to get from a notice of intent — the first step in preparing an EIS — to publication of a final EIS…That’s four days longer than the previous record set in 2013 and up from fewer than 1,200 days in 2000.”

In January 2014, the EPA sent a letter to Wyoming couple Andy and Katie Johnson claiming that the stock pond they built on their own property violated the Clean Water Act. The EPA threatened the couple with fines of $75,000 per day, even though these homeowners received approval from the state and their permit was in good standing.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research service reports that the EPA has continuously abused its veto authority by blocking permits that were already approved by the primary agency, the Corps of Engineers. EPA vetoes of Section 404 permits have occurred at least 13 times. These continued abuses and agency overreach are only a foreshadowing of things to come under the EPA’s new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The Gosar amendment is endorsed by: Eagle Forum, Americans for Limited Government, Concerned Citizens for America, Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Liberty, Arizona Small Business Association, the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce, Gila County Cattle Growers Association, the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce, La Paz Stockmen’s Association, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Wool Growers, New Mexico Federal Lands Council, Town of Fredonia and Veritas Research.

Contact: Steven D. Smith

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