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H.R. 348: RAPID Act

Sep 25, 2015 at 12:06 p.m. ET. On Passage of the Bill in the House.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 348 (114th) in the House.

H.R. 348 would reform the review process for the environmental impact of federally-funded construction projects. The goal of these reforms would be to streamline the review process under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. The bill also would prohibit the consideration of the “social cost of carbon” in any environmental review or decision making process. It was passed in the House by a partisan vote of 233-170, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting against, and it goes to the Senate next. The Obama Administration issued a veto threat on the previous incarnation of the bill which passed the House in March 2014.

###National Environmental Policy Act and the Review Process NEPA requires all federal agencies to determine the expected environmental impact of any project and consider alternative strategies to reduce impact. Agencies must prepare statements of these costs. NEPA established the President’s Council of Environmental Quality to oversee these statements and ensure federal agencies meet their obligations under the act. The requirements of NEPA tend to prolong and increase the cost of federal projects that are likely to have high environmental impact. Federally funded construction or energy projects are examples. Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA10), sponsor of H.R. 348, wrote in a press release, that delaying projects and increasing costs can have a negative economic impact. Reducing the rate of federal construction and infrastructure projects prevents those projects from hiring employees. Republicans and Democrats disagree about how to maximize job growth while minimizing environmental damages. Rep. Marino and the Republican party believe that H.R. 348 will increase the efficiency of NEPA to promote job growth. Democrats disagree, claiming the bill would only cripple the review process without actually improving efficiency.

###Social Costs of Carbon A prominent subject of controversy for H.R. 348 is the prohibition of consideration of the social cost of carbon from environmental reviews of federal projects. The cost is calculated by the expected economic damages of the increase in carbon dioxide emission from the federal project. Republicans have previously criticized the cost as wasteful, arguing that the calculation is too speculative to warrant the impact it has on federal projects. Democrats and environmentalists, however, assert it is necessary to compensate for the economic costs associated with global warming and to discourage further emissions.

Totals

All Votes R D
Aye 58%
 
 
233
226
 
7
 
No 42%
 
 
170
0
 
170
 
Not Voting
 
 
31
20
 
11
 

Passed. Simple Majority Required. Source: house.gov.

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