Red Tape Stands In The Way of Rebuilding HW 89

Red Tape Stands In The Way of Rebuilding HW 89

"It shouldn’t take the greatest nation on earth years to rebuild from a disaster."

After historic floods destroyed Highway 89, the only road into Yellowstone National Park from the north, Montana’s tourist dependent towns are expressing worries about what a long rebuild could mean for their community. Yellowstone Park superintendent Cam Sholly estimates that permanent road fixes may take 3-5 years.

A major barrier standing in the way of a prompt rebuilding of Highway 89 is a mountain of red tape.

One of the main regulatory obstacles will be a law known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of proposed actions.

Under NEPA, projects such as road construction go through a process to determine the extent of federal paperwork and approvals that will be required. The shortest amount of NEPA red tape is known as a categorical exclusion, a process that may still take several months to complete after agency reviews and public comment periods.

However if the project is deemed to have a significant environmental impact, then the project would be subject to the most extensive review process known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which on average takes 4.5 years to complete. Keep in mind – that’s 4.5 years BEFORE construction actually begins.

Regardless of which process NEPA will require for rebuilding in the Yellowstone area, it is not the only barrier to reconstruction.

NEPA also opens the door to obstructionist lawsuits that can add significant delays. This is what happened in Yosemite National Park when efforts to rebuild roads destroyed by a flood were halted for 15 years by environmental lawsuits and a long bureaucratic planning and review process.

But it shouldn’t take the greatest nation on earth years to rebuild from a disaster. Luckily for us, Governor Gianforte has made red tape relief a major focus of his administration. Leaders in Washington need to follow Montana’s lead and focus on reducing excessive regulatory obstacles to building infrastructure.

For Liberty,
Tanner Avery

As we approach the end of our Second Anniversary fundraising campaign, I’d like to thank everyone who donated during the month of June. Without you our work wouldn’t be possible, thank you!

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