Rep. Johnson Introduces Bill to Streamline Environmental Approvals
Washington D.C. – On Wednesday, Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04) introduced the Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act of 2017 (the SEA Act), to reduce excessive government regulations developed under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Johnson’s bill streamlines the lengthy permit approval processes that have caused setbacks and delays for those working to preserve America's rapidly deteriorating coastline, interrupted U.S. Naval operations and deterred offshore oil and gas exploration.
Rep. Johnson released the following statement:
“Excessive government regulation continues to stand in the way of hard-working Americans. These specific regulations impose burdensome, unnecessary barriers to new technological innovations. Particularly in the Gulf Coast region, many of the critical efforts aimed at protecting our coastline are halted by unnecessary permit approval delays. Even worse, our Armed Forces have been forced to devote valuable resources to address regulations put in place by the MMPA. This is simply unacceptable. My bill will remove government red tape keeping workers on our coast from moving forward with projects in a timely manner – freeing the market, creating jobs and boosting the economy.”
When enacted in 1972, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was intended to manage interactions between marine mammals and commercial fishing operations in an effort to halt population declines of some of our treasured marine mammals. The SEA Act clarifies a permitting process known as Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHA), required by the MMPA, and increases regulatory efficiency by removing additional secondary review and administrative processes under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Specifically, the bill:
- Sets a Permitting Timeframe—sets a clear framework for permits to be accepted or denied by the secretary of the appropriate agency
- Authorizes More Approvals—Secretary has 120 days after an application has been deemed complete to issue the authorization allowing for activity to begin; if not, the authorization will be deemed approved on the terms stated in the application
- Creates a Science-Based Extension—allows the option to extend certain permits for more than a year if there has been no substantial change to the marine mammal population
- Removes Duplication—eliminates the duplicative process currently in place surrounding the Endangered Species Act (ESA); exempts MMPA-covered marine mammals from the requirement of additional, less rigorous standards used in the ESA process; and prohibits any related federal activity from the ESA’s consultation requirement as applied to marine mammals
The SEA Act is supported by:
- International Association of Geophysical Contractors
- National Ocean Industries Association
- American Petroleum Institute
- International Association of Drilling Contractors