House Panel Approves Amendment to Expedite Permitting Process
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today approved an NAHB-supported amendment to the Nationwide Permitting Improvement Act (H.R. 7023) that includes five bills aimed at providing the necessary clarity and confidence needed under the Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting process.
Prior to the committee vote, NAHB sent a letter to lawmakers stating that the home building industry faces “an unpredictable regulatory landscape that hamstrings our members from building affordable housing.”
We further noted that the amendment to H.R. 7023 respects environmental protections and provides pragmatic solutions to the CWA Section 404 dredge and fill permit program, Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, and Section 304(a) water quality criteria.
Specifically, the amendment adds the following five bills into H.R. 7023:
- The Nationwide Permitting Improvement Act. Home builders pull some of the highest numbers of 404 Nationwide Permits (NWPs) issued annually. To assist with planning and permit backlogs, this legislation extends the duration of an NWP and streamlines the reissuance process.
- The Reducing Permitting Uncertainty Act. This bill focuses on providing a defined timeline to when the EPA may veto a 404 permit. Having this predictability will allow home builders to reliably proceed with construction once a permit is granted.
- The Judicial Review Timeline Clarity Act. Home builders complying with 404 permits require a level of certainty that their activity will not come to an abrupt halt because of capricious judicial reviews. Placing sensible timelines on when these actions may be filed will foster certitude when undertaking resource intensive projects.
- The Water Quality Criteria Development and Transparency Act. NAHB welcomes the opportunity this legislation provides to submit comments on Section 304(a) water quality criteria. This will enable a more collaborative approach when developing crucial water standards.
- The Confidence in Clean Water Permits Act. NAHB worked with lawmakers to add specific language to this bill that would not affect how home builders use best management practices when managing stormwater runoff from construction sites. This bill provides assurances to home builders that complying with their permits won’t include vague water quality standards, nor impose unobtainable numeric discharge limits.
The home building industry requires confidence in the CWA permitting process. Jointly, these legislative instruments respect environmental safeguards and make significant strides in ensuring clarity.