House Subcommittee Takes Aim at National Historic Preservation Act

The House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold an oversight hearing titled, “Examining Impacts of Federal Natural Resources Laws Gone Astray, Part II” on Tuesday, July 18th, at 10:00 a.m. To watch the hearing live, click here.  Hearings are also posted to the Committee’s web site and can be viewed later.

In holding this hearing, the Natural Resources Committee is creating a record on the issue.  It is not considering a specific legislative proposal.  Rather, it is building a case for exploring potential regulatory and legislative changes to the National Historic Preservation Act.

According to the hearing memo, “this oversight hearing will examine the federal government’s implementation of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, with a focus on instances where the application of these statutes strays past the original intent of Congress.  Over the years, implementation of these laws in certain instances has evolved beyond their original mission and has led to burdensome and inefficient regulatory processes, litigation, and adverse effects on the American taxpayer.  The hearing will highlight provisions of these laws that are vulnerable to abuse, as well as identify potential reforms to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the acts.”

Section 106 will receive significant attention.  The Committee memo says “Of all NHPA provisions, Section 106 most profoundly impacts other federal agencies as well as individuals and businesses that interact with them. . . The requirement that agencies consider “eligible” properties has generated uncertainty and drastically broadens the scope of the review.”

The testimony in the hearing, and the questions posed by members of the committee, will provide broad outlines of what arguments we are likely to see on both sides.  The following witnesses are scheduled:

Ms. Patty Brandt, Resident, Eastmoreland Neighborhood, Portland, OR

Ms. Amanda C. Leiter, Professor, American University, Washington College of Law, Washington, DC

Mr. Amos J. Loveday, Ph.D., Atchley Hardin Lane, LLC, Columbus, OH

Ms. Nikki Martin, President, International Association of Geophysical Contractors, Houston, TX

After the hearing is complete, we will provide a summary.