I learned today that the House of Representatives passed the “Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2015.” This bill is referred to as the RAPID Act. The bill passed by a 233 to 170 vote (all Republicans and seven Democrats in favor). The bill, H.R.348, establishes procedures to streamline the regulatory review, environmental decision making and permitting process for construction activities undertaken, reviewed or funded by federal agencies. This includes Environmental Impact Statements conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. The legislation imposes deadlines and limitations on those who challenge final decisions made by the government regarding construction activities of energy extraction industries.
I wish to suggest to you that this legislation sets a very dangerous precedent for removing local scrutiny and control of the activities of energy extraction industries. These industries include Dominion Energy, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Such legislation opens the door for these industries to damage resources and the environment while providing less oversight from the public and from the citizens of West Virginia. Bills and policies such as this are being supported by our federal senators and legislators, as suggested in their newsletters and press releases.
I feel very strongly that the citizens of West Virginia should be made aware of these political moves. West Virginia has a history in which its natural resources have been taken from its citizens for the benefit of wealthy extraction industries while providing little in the way of compensation. It is in the best interests of West Virginians to stop legislation that continues this history.
Thank you for your consideration.
Thomas P. Epling