Proposed legislation will impact protection of U.S. cultural resources
Posted in: Cultural Resources
Two bills — the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act and the Regulatory Accountability Act — recently passed the House and are now headed to the Senate. It is purported that, if enacted, these bills may cause delays in the federal environmental review of critical infrastructure.
In particular, my concern is that the RAA and the REINS Act will provide regulatory oversight by judges and legislators who have little or no expertise in the issues. Changes to agency regulations that already work may result in creating unpredictability and uncertainty for project proponents. For example, the National Historic Preservation Act has provided a predictable process that is also flexible to allow fast-track review. For more than 50 years, the NHPA has allowed timely federal reviews while addressing effects to our nation’s cultural resources.
Soon, the Trump administration and Senate will be taking action on these bills. Several well-respected organizations formed the Coalition for American Heritage, which drafted a letter urging Senators to reject the RAA and the REINS Act, stating:
“Our regulatory system needs to be predictable, consistent and efficient, and these bills would achieve the opposite effect … These bills would hamstring federal agencies’ ability to take any official action, including those required by the administrative review processes that help appropriately balance development and preservation of our national heritage.”
Organizations that signed onto the letter in support include the following:
- American Anthropological Association
- American Cultural Resources Association
- Coalition for American Heritage
- National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
- Preservation Action
- Society for American Archaeology
- Society for Historical Archaeology
I urge you to contact your Senator about your feeling on the bills. Learn more at the coalition’s website, where you can subscribe to the mailing list, which will help you monitor issues affecting our cultural resources.
Watch for an upcoming blog on changes proposed to the Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
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