Bill to speed up permits moves ahead

The House Judiciary Committee passed an act Wednesday on Capitol Hill to streamline the approval process for infrastructure, energy and other construction projects.

Passed with a vote of 18-9, U.S. Rep. Thomas Marino, R-Cogan Station, was the chief sponsor of the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2013 (RAPID).

“The RAPID Act is a common-sense solution to the outdated and burdensome system currently in place for approving infrastructure and energy project permits.

“These projects – which create jobs and stimulate our economy – can be significantly delayed by endless agency objections. This bill will streamline the permitting process and get government out of the way while continuing to maintain environmental protections,” Marino said.

The RAPID Act sets deadlines to complete the permit review process, creates more standards, and is said to increase transparency.

Sarah Wolf, Marino’s press secretary, said the legislation keeps people from “arbitrarily blocking progress because they don’t agree with it or have a personal issue with it.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said a March 2011 study, “Project Denied: The Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects,” identified 351 projects that could generate $1.1 trillion and create 1.9 million jobs annually.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires federal agencies to analyze the environmental impacts of new federal actions. Over the years, the process has become bogged down with bureaucracy, Marino said.