Rice Introduces Legislation to Discourage Frivolous Lawsuits

Bill would hold special interest groups accountable, stop years-long delay of infrastructure projects and save taxpayer money

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Rice (SC-07) today introduced H.R. 1179, the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act, legislation that would amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) to streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects and hold special interest groups accountable for filing frivolous lawsuits. Under current law, it is too easy for special interest groups and the EPA to unnecessarily stall infrastructure projects, resulting in years-long delays and increased costs at taxpayer’s expense. 

“There is layer after layer after layer of both governmental agency and public review before permits can be approved by the Army Corps,” said Congressman Rice. “Right now, red tape from federal agencies and frivolous lawsuits brought forth by obstructionists delay infrastructure projects and cost millions in taxpayer money. There has to be a test of reasonableness so these badly-needed infrastructure projects are completed in a timely manner with the lowest cost possible.”

Currently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the lead authority for wetlands permitting but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the ability to deny permits issued by the Army Corps at the last minute and with no prior involvement. The Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act removes this “veto authority” from the EPA, reducing the uncertainty applicants experience when filing for permits.

The Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act also amends the CWA to pardon prevailing parties from legal and court fees associated with challenging a permit decision and requires the losing party of the lawsuit to pay for the costs. This discourages the filing of frivolous lawsuits and holds obstructionists accountable for lengthy court proceedings that create unnecessary delays.

To view a copy of the legislation, please click here.