U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue Applauds NEPA Updates

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 2:45pm

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue issued the following statement today applauding updates from the White House Council on Environmental Quality that modernize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a vital federal environmental law that has not seen major updates since it was adopted in 1970:

“It should not take longer for a project to get permitted than it does for it to be constructed, but unfortunately that is often the case in the United States today.  After two decades of discussion about the need for reform, spanning multiple Administrations, we’re thankful that the Trump Administration has made this issue a priority and taken thoughtful action.

“In this time of economic hardship, America must be able to put people to work to rebuild our aging transportation infrastructure like highways, bridges and airports.  If we are serious about wanting to improve our climate, we must be able to build the clean energy infrastructure needed like solar panels, wind farms and transmission lines.  And if we wish to provide underserved communities with environmentally sustainable infrastructure that unleashes economic opportunities, we must be able to expand access to transit lines.

“These NEPA updates will make the federal permitting process more predictable and transparent.  It will establish timelines for a decision and make requirements more straightforward.  Ultimately, this new rule is not about the outcome of permit applications, but the process and time it takes to get to a decision.

“Make no mistake:  NEPA is vital to protecting our environment.  The Chamber wholeheartedly supports a thorough environmental review process for projects.  This NEPA update does not change existing environmental laws, and it maintains public input opportunities that are so important.  Instead, these updates return NEPA back to its original intent-- a timely and focused review of environmental impacts-- rather than a tool to delay projects for years and even decades, which is what it had become.

“NEPA updates are a great start, but they are not the only answer.  We continue our call for Congress to work together in a bipartisan way on an infrastructure package that includes additional permitting improvements and viable funding solutions.  The Chamber will continue to lead this fight.”

The U.S. Chamber leads the Unlock American Investment Coalition, which was formed to support NEPA modernization and is made up of 50 organizations representing broad interests such as agriculture, energy, forestry, manufacturing, organized labor and transportation that form the backbone of America’s industrial economy.