U.S. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn has introduced legislation that, if enacted into law, would remove certain federal regulations so rural areas could go forward with federally-funded projects.
Blackburn is sponsoring that legislation, the Paving the Way for Rural Communities Act of 2019, with U.S. Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi.
Members of Blackburn’s policy team told The Tennessee Star in an email Wednesday that rural communities are among the most in need of federal assistance for economic development.
“Federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Endangered Species Act add enormous cost and complexity to local communities trying to work with federal departments and agencies on highway construction or economic development projects. These laws sometimes hinder private entities from investing in rural communities,” according to material from Blackburn’s office.
“The costs of hiring consultants and attorneys to ensure compliance can add significant costs and complexity to communities already lacking financial and informational resources. This puts rural counties at a disadvantage compared to their urban counterparts because they generally lack a sufficient tax base to hire the consultants, attorneys, and subject matter experts necessary to document compliance with NEPA, NHPA, and ESA.”
In some cases, such regulations deter smaller communities from participating in federal programs altogether, according to the material.
No one from Perdue’s or Hyde-Smith’s office returned The Star’s requests for comment before deadline.
But in a press release, the two other senators cited how people in their respective states need these deregulations.
“By removing these burdensome regulations, rural areas will have more flexibility to implement efficient infrastructure projects, while receiving greater federal investment,” Perdue said.
“This bill will continue President Trump’s work to cut through bureaucratic red tape and unleash economic potential in Georgia and across the country.”
Hyde-Smith, meanwhile, said “the permitting and review processes now in place are an incredible burden for rural Mississippi, where hiring expensive consultants and lawyer is out of the question.”
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