Rice leads GOP contingent in unveiling litigation-reform proposal

U.S. Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) on Dec. 6 introduced legislation to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to reduce unnecessary litigation. Thirty Republicans have already signed on as original cosponsors of the proposed bill.

“Bureaucratic red tape and frivolous lawsuits from obstructionists delay badly needed infrastructure projects and cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” Rep. Rice said. “In order to keep unnecessary lawsuits and permit denials from stopping essential projects from moving forward, checks must be implemented.”

Rep. Rice sponsored the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act, H.R. 5341, which would streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects and hold special interest groups accountable for filing unimportant lawsuits.

According to a bill summary provided by Rep. Rice’s office, H.R. 5341 would create a “loser pays” citizen lawsuit structure under which prevailing parties would be pardoned from legal and court fees associated with their challenge of a permit decision. The losing party would be required to pay the costs, according to the summary.

Additionally, H.R. 5341 would remove duplicative oversight by the Environmental Protection Agency by eliminating its permit veto authority over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has oversight for wetland permitting, according to the text of the bill.

If enacted, the legislation also would prohibit excess mitigation, according to the bill’s text.

Among the 30 original cosponsors of H.R. 5341 are U.S. Reps. Mark Amodei (R-NV), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Bill Flores (R-TX), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA).

The measure has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.