Streamlined Regulations That Work for All Americans
House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04)
Real Solutions, Real Infrastructure
Bill: H.R. 2515, The Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays & Efficient Reviews (BUILDER) Act
If you’re like most Americans, federal regulatory reform probably isn’t a frequent topic of conversation around your dinner table. These laws tend to be out of sight, out of mind; when they work well, no one notices. Yet in many cases, federal regulations haven’t been updated in decades and are stuck in the era of fax machines and pagers. While President Biden has proposed aggressive plans to build, build, build, most of it will be impossible without significant regulatory reform.
One of the main environmental regulation lynchpins is the National Environmental Policy Act, commonly referred to as NEPA. It’s important policy with jurisdiction over a majority of infrastructure projects; however, it hasn’t been updated in more than 50 years. A lot has changed in the last few decades – how we build, what we build and what we know about the earth and the environment has all been informed by new science and better processes. Unfortunately, NEPA has not been updated to keep pace. Litigious environmental groups have weaponized these discrepancies and exploit them to hamstring critical infrastructure projects.
To keep pace with the needs of a modern America and close the infrastructure divide in our rural communities, we must be building real infrastructure like roads, bridges, broadband and wireless technology today. The average time to complete the NEPA process is more than six years, and that number continues to grow. With ambitious infrastructure goals on the horizon, we don’t have that time to waste. We cannot afford to spend our limited funds on bloated bureaucracy and government mandated paperwork.
Enter the Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays and Efficient Reviews (BUILDER) Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.). He and I are members of both the Natural Resources Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and we’ve seen firsthand how legislation like the BUILDER Act is so pivotal to our nation’s infrastructure. This bill will play a critical role in modernizing NEPA, bringing these regulations into the 21st Century and streamlining them in ways that work better for the American people.
What will that look like in practice? It means communities won’t have to wait for almost a decade to repair a deteriorating bridge on the highway. It means federal agencies won’t be able to table critical projects indefinitely. It means project reviews are clarified and streamlined, resulting in greater communication between governmental and private entities and ensuring practical timelines.
Red tape has bogged down infrastructure projects for far too long. Regulatory modernization legislation like the BUILDER Act is a bipartisan, practical way to take immediate action toward a stronger infrastructure. These are solutions that work for all Americans, and I’m proud to support them here in Congress.