H.R. 4795, Promoting New Manufacturing Act

H.R. 4795

Promoting New Manufacturing Act

Date
November 20, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Thursday, November 20, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 4795, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act, under a rule.  H.R. 4795 was introduced by Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) on May 30, 2014 and was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  The bill was marked up on June 9 and 10, 2014 and was ordered reported by a vote of 30-19.[1]

__________
[1] House Committee Report 113-488.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4795 provides for greater transparency and timeliness in obtaining the permits necessary for new manufacturing.  Specifically, “the bill addresses preconstruction permits required under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for major stationary sources . . . .”[2]

H.R. 4795 requires the EPA to publish on its website the following information for FY 2008 and each subsequent fiscal year: 1) the total number of preconstruction permits issued; 2) the percentage of permits issued within one year of the filing of a completed application; and 3) the EPA Appeals Board’s average timeline for deciding appeals of preconstruction permit application decisions.

When publishing a final rule to establish or revise a national ambient air quality standard, H.R. 4795 directs the EPA Administrator to concurrently issue implementing guidance.  In particular, it should address how to comply with the new or revised standards in the preconstruction permit application process.  If the Administrator fails to publish such guidance, the new or revised standard may not be applied to preconstruction permit applications until the Administrator makes such guidance available.

H.R. 4795 requires the EPA to submit an annual report to Congress that 1) identifies efforts to make the preconstruction permitting process more efficient; 2) identifies specific reasons for delays in issuing preconstruction permits required under the CAA; 3) describes EPA efforts to resolve delays in making completeness determinations for preconstruction permit applications; 4) describes how the EPA is resolving delays for preconstruction permits; and 5) summarizes and responds to public comments received about the report.  Before submitting the report, the EPA must make a draft of the report available for public comment for a period of at least thirty days.

__________
[2] Id. at 2.

Background

“There are currently tens of billions of dollars in potential new manufacturing projects that have been announced, largely due to America’s abundant energy supplies.”[3]  Many include substantial foreign investment in the U.S.,[4] and according to one expert, could result in “as many as one million new jobs by 2025 as we build new iron, steel, cement, fertilizer, chemicals, aluminum, plastics, and many other manufacturing facilities, as well as the products that are made from these materials . . . .”[5]

However, such projects are frequently stalled or scrapped altogether because of “regulatory uncertainty and potential delays in the permitting process.”[6]  The CAA’s “New Source Review” provisions require new or modified facilities to “obtain a preconstruction permit before commencing construction and install emissions control equipment as a condition of the permit.”[7]  One substantial challenge of the permitting process is “new or changing regulatory requirements,” which apply to preconstruction permit applications as soon as the new requirements become effective—even if EPA has not issued any guidance on implementing the new standard.[8]  Another significant hurdle is the uncertain timeline for the permitting process.  Although federal statute requires a decision on a permit application within one year for certain types of permits, the process typically takes much longer.[9]  According to one expert, “We routinely advise clients that obtaining a [Prevention of Significant Deterioration] permit can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years, and that a minimum of 12 to 18 months need to be allowed in the project schedule.”[10]

H.R. 4795 addresses these issues by “ensur[ing] these new manufacturing facilities will be built by improving the process for obtaining air permits required under the federal CAA.”[11]

__________
[3] Id. at 3.
[4] Id. at 3-4.
[5] Id. at 4.
[6] Id.
[7] Id. at 2.
[8] Id. at 4-5.
[9] Id. at 3.
[10] Id. at 4.
[11] Id. at 2.

Cost

According to CBO cost estimates, implementing H.R. 4795 would cost approximately $2 million from 2015-2019.  Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Amendments

1)         Rep. McNerney (D-CA) Amendment #2 – Amendment states that outdated air quality standards do not apply toward a preconstruction permit if the applicable federal, state, or local permitting agency determines that applying it would likely increase air pollution, slow permitting, or increase regulatory uncertainty.

2)         Rep. Whitfield (R-KY) Amendment #1 – Amendment clarifies that Section 3(b) of the bill does not prohibit States from imposing new or revised federal air quality standards under state or local law.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.