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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Denham debuts bill to streamline environmental review


U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) yesterday introduced legislation that would allow states to bypass the federal environmental review process when pursuing transportation projects.

The bill would give the U.S. Secretary of Transportation authority to certify that a state's own environmental review process is sufficient to satisfy the federal review process established under the National Environmetal Policy Act (NEPA), Denham's staffers said in a press release.

In California, for example, projects that cleared the standards set forth in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) could proceed without undergoing a "duplicative and redundant second layer of review" from the federal government, they said.

Denham said that in California, 36 cents to 50 cents on the construction dollar go toward moving a project through the NEPA approval process, due to the need for accompanying environmental documents, plans, specifications and estimates.

"This is a cost that is added on top of costs to complete CEQA reviews, which are more stringent than those at the federal level under NEPA," Denham staffers said.

The bill's co-sponsors are U.S. Reps. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif), Cresent Hardy (R-Nevada) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

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More News from 5/22/2015