October 31, 2023

Cassidy Introduces Judicial Reform Bill to Streamline Permitting Processes in the U.S.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led the introduction of judicial reform legislation. The Revising and Enhancing Project Authorizations Impacted by Review (REPAIR) Act will streamline the permitting process for U.S. energy, manufacturing, and critical infrastructure projects.

“It’s impossible to permit energy and manufacturing in the U.S. Well-funded radical groups are hijacking the justice system to send critical infrastructure projects they don’t like into legal purgatory,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Commonsense judicial reform removes unnecessary roadblocks while preserving the right to challenge projects. Doing so provides certainty and shortens permitting timelines.”

“Montanans are no strangers to the endless cycles of permitting and litigation that tie up important mining and energy projects, kill Montana jobs and jeopardize economic development. Unfortunately we see this right in our backyard with mines in Montana that have been trapped in a cycle of litigation and permitting for over 30 years.  To unlock Montana’s full potential, it’s essential that we put an end to these frivolous lawsuits brought on by fringe groups and enact litigation reform to complement efforts to streamline the permitting process,” said Senator Daines.

“Radical activist litigation has stalled far too many critical domestic energy, natural resource, and manufacturing projects and made us reliant on other countries, like China. The REPAIR Act will prevent these serial litigants from using unfair tactics and loop holes to bog down our judicial system and tie up our natural resources,” said Senator Risch.

“The federal permitting process has become a years-long slog which discourages investment and innovation all together,” said Senator Lummis. “Wyoming energy producers have proven that new projects and technology have the power to lower costs, create jobs and provide cleaner energy. The REPAIR Act reforms the federal permitting process to function more efficiently and reduces radical activists’ ability to file frivolous lawsuits purely designed to delay and derail new projects.”

“Progress in American manufacturing and energy production means limiting the time and resources wasted on battling frivolous lawsuits during the permitting and review process for new projects. The REPAIR Act removes impediments to new development and fosters a more secure supply chain as America strives for stronger energy and technology independence,” said Senator Crapo.

“For too long, we have allowed bureaucratic obstacles and endless litigation to delay vital infrastructure projects, stifling our economic growth and leaving American innovation efforts lagging behind,” said Senator Marshall. “Our legislation will help alleviate the frivolous lawsuits constantly used by activists on the Left to interfere and derail critical infrastructure projects by simplifying the permitting process.”

The REPAIR Act makes many vital changes to the judicial review process of an approved permit. The judicial process created by the REPAIR Act ensures all laws related to permitting have the same review process, scope of adjudication, rules for standing, and statute of limitations. The bill removes the ability to file a suit based on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), instead focusing lawsuits on the statute for which the permit was issued. In the case of a judicial remand or other court action, the REPAIR Act establishes a mediation process that allows the project developer and the permit-issuing agency to directly address the challenge in order to allow the project to move forward. Additionally, the bill increases transparency in ongoing court challenges to permits in an effort to highlight the unnecessary delays caused by the judicial process.

Cassidy is joined by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Jim Risch (R-ID), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) in introducing the judicial reform legislation.

The legislation is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, ClearPath, the National Mining Association, and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES).

”The REPAIR ACT is a powerful step in the right direction to provide greater certainty in the permitting process and unleash private sector investment to build the infrastructure, and the economy, of the future. We applaud Senator Cassidy and Senators Daines, Risch, Crapo, Lummis, and Marshall for promoting legislation to help drive more predictability in the federal permitting of critical infrastructure projects – from offshore wind, hydrogen pipelines, roads and bridges, to broadband projects – that too often find themselves mired in legal delays caused by an antiquated permitting process that threatens our economy and diminishes our global competitiveness. The current process allows project opponents to continuously block projects, delaying completion even after projects have received federal authorization to proceed. Project developers and financers must have more certainty regarding the scope and timeline for project reviews, including any related judicial review,” said Chad Whiteman, Vice President, Environment and Regulatory Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

“A transparent, timely and consistent permitting process is vital to build on the progress made in the Fiscal Responsibility Act and enable the development of all energy infrastructure, from natural gas and oil to wind and solar projects. API is pleased that the REPAIR Act addresses the urgent need for permitting reform, helping to prevent critical energy projects from becoming bogged down by needless, time-consuming lawsuits. By establishing clear timelines and a more reasonable legal process with appropriate checks and balances, Senator Cassidy is working to ensure developers have certainty to build the projects needed to expand American energy leadership,” said Dustin Meyer, Senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs, API.

“Too many clean energy projects experience delays of years, sometimes decades, largely because of a broken permitting system, and obstructive litigation practices. Senator Cassidy’s bill strikes the right balance – allowing legitimate judicial review while halting the never-ending cycle that is impeding America’s ability to deploy billions of dollars of capital to the energy projects our country desperately needs,” said ClearPath Action CEO Rich Powell.

“While the Fiscal Responsibility Act provided much-needed updates to our onerous permitting process, frivolous litigation halting energy projects remains a roadblock to unleashing the clean energy economy. Thank you to Senator Cassidy and his Republican co-leads for introducing the Revising and Enhancing Authorizations Impacted by Review (REPAIR) Act, which strikes the right balance and limits judicial review to only those that actually have a case – not extreme activist organizations just looking to stop progress. Whether it be hydrogen, natural gas, wind, solar, or other infrastructure projects, we need to close loopholes that allow for obstructive serial litigation. The REPAIR act does just that, and CRES is proud to endorse this crucial litigation,” said CRES President Heather Reams. 

Click here for a one-pager on the REPAIR Act.