Sen. Lee reintroduces UNSHACKLE Act

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) today reintroduced the Undoing NEPA’s Substantial Harm by Advancing Concepts that Kickstart the Liberation of the Economy (UNSHACKLE) Act, legislation that would comprehensively reform the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “Environmental planning is essential to sustainable growth, but unfortunately NEPA has become a weapon used by special interests to make much-needed infrastructure and maintenance projects throughout our country prohibitively expensive,” Sen. Lee said. “The UNSHACKLE Act will reform the NEPA process so that federal agencies, state, and local governments are better empowered to carry out NEPA’s originalgoal, while also making our nation’s infrastructure and maintenance project affordable again.”

The UNSHACKLE Act is comprehensive NEPA legislation that combines five other stand-alone reform bills on agency process, state expansion, legal changes, and data reporting into one comprehensive text.

The stand-alone bills have also been independently introduced. For details, see the summary and links below:

  • NEPA Agency Process Accountability Act
    • Mandates only one Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Environmental Assessment (EA) for each project
    • Mandates that agencies must re-use relevant environmental research from related prior projects, and cannot offer alternatives that are not economically feasible
    • Allows agencies to use state environmental documents for proposed projects
  • NEPA Accountability and Enforcement Act
    • Requires federal agencies to complete the NEPA process in two years for proposed projects that need an EIS
    • Imposes a one year deadline for agencies to issue a Categorical Exclusion (CE) and complete the NEPA process for projects with an EA
    • Requires agencies to approve or deny permits within 90 days of completion of the NEPA process
  • NEPA State Assignment Expansion Act
    • Expands the NEPA assignment program to let federal agencies delegate NEPA review authority to relevant state entities, which can can carry out NEPA review on the agency’s behalf, under the supervision of the agency
  • NEPA Legal Reform Act
    • Clarifies requirements necessary for to receive judicial review for NEPA-related claims
    • Sets a 150-day statute of limitations for NEPA-related claims
    • Reforms the evidentiary standards and requirements for a court to consider when granting injunctive relief for a NEPA-related claim
  • NEPA Data Transparency Act
    • Requires agencies to report to Congress the number of CEs, EISs, and EAs issued in the past year, and the time it took to process proposed projects
    • Requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to develop a way to calculate the comprehensive cost of the NEPA process, and federal agencies to report the costs of NEPA processes they’ve completed

The full bill text can be found here.