The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, was signed into law nearly 50 years ago and hasn’t received a significant update since 1986. This legislation was designed to ensure the proper evaluation and protection of the environment before, during and after construction of infrastructure projects in the corresponding area.
Unfortunately, activists frequently abuse the NEPA review process by dragging out environmental impact assessments and blocking the development of, as well as improvements to, critical roads, bridges and energy infrastructure across the country. Their efforts cause uncertainty around timelines and costs, making projects uneconomical and, without updating NEPA, many will never be built.
The Council on Environmental Quality is looking to streamline NEPA permitting and enforcement. These reforms will continue to protect the environment while increasing investment in a variety of infrastructure projects, including lower-carbon energy options like natural gas and renewables which have helped drive emissions down to their lowest levels in a generation. A modernized NEPA will also strengthen America’s energy independence. That means more jobs, cleaner energy, and increased economic growth from Mobile to Huntsville.
NEPA was designed to benefit both Americans and the environment. Further attempts at shutdowns or delays for beneficial infrastructure projects, like Alabama’s Sabal Trail pipeline, will cost taxpayers more time and millions of dollars. We need to cut red tape and burdensome regulations, put Alabamians to work, and develop our great state for future generations. Modernizing the NEPA process will be a great first step.
Energy Institute of Alabama
Seth Hammett is the chairman of the Energy Institute of Alabama and serves as vice president of business development for PowerSouth Energy. He was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for 32 years, including 12 years as Speaker of the House.