WASHINGTON (March 6, 2014)—The House of Representatives Thursday approved the RAPID Act, a bill that would gut environmental safeguards on major development projects, handing the review and decision process over to developers and limiting the public’s participation on these large projects. The bill threatens to weaken property rights for those subject to eminent domain by severely limiting the time that those adversely affected by a project can weigh in and offer alternatives.
Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following statement:
“The bill’s intent is clear: to allow industry to ride roughshod over laws and safeguards designed to protect property owners, the environment and the general public. The Senate should reject it.”
The RAPID Act, an acronym for the Orwellian-titled “Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development,” is a green light for those doing projects that require federal action to barge ahead with irresponsible schemes and leave the environmental harm to our children to clean up. If arbitrary deadlines are missed by federal scientists or engineers, the bill would automatically approve permits and licenses under the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and even the licensing requirements of the Atomic Energy Act for nuclear power or nuclear waste disposal. The legislation severely limits consideration of less harmful alternatives, and reduces all-important public participation. Moreover, it creates a presumption that a project is acceptable, so that once an agency runs up against the bill's arbitrary deadlines for a project analysis, no matter how bad the project might be, the government would be forced to approve it.
This is the latest in a series of Republican-sponsored bills that threaten the safeguards we depend on to protect our families and our environment. Last week, the House passed HR 2804, a package of bills that would prevent federal agencies from carrying out their congressional mandates to implement and enforce protections for the environment, public health and safety, essentially seeking to overturn a system that has protected Americans for a century.
For more information, see Scott’s blog: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sslesinger/regulatory_process_faster_or_s.html