WASHINGTON, D.C. — H.R. 4141, the “Broadband for Americans through Responsible Streamlining Act” (BARS Act), passed out of the Committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday, July 26th, 2023. Congressman Fulcher also shepherded similar legislation through the Energy & Commerce Committee in May of this year through H.R. 3297, “Reducing Barriers for Broadband on Federal Lands Act.”
Chairman Westerman: “The Natural Resources Committee has been at the forefront of reducing overbearing and unnecessary regulatory red tape. H.R. 4141 is another step in our effort to ease burdensome regulations to give broadband access to millions of Americans living in rural areas. I see the need for this firsthand in my home state of Arkansas, where high school students often have to sit in McDonald’s parking lots to access free Wi-Fi so they can submit their assignments or apply for jobs. This shouldn’t be the case in a modern America. I fully support Representative Fulcher's legislation and am ready to work with him to get this bill through the House and signed into law.”
“Across the nation, over 42 million Americans cannot access broadband. Inaccessibility is especially impactful to rural and tribal communities.” Congressman Fulcher stated during deliberation of H.R. 4141 in committee. “This is how we get telehealth, e-commerce, and other online services to people with limited choices. Americans in rural areas deserve broadband access.” Fulcher continued.
H.R. 4141, the BARS Act, is similar legislation to the “Reducing Barriers for Broadband on Federal Lands Act.” The BARS Act streamlines the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) process for communication projects in areas already disturbed areas on federal lands where an environmental review process has already occurred. The BARS Act provides efficient means for communication providers to not undergo duplicative environmental or historical reviews in areas where communication facilities or lines already exist on federal lands to more proficiently provide the latest communication capabilities to bolster emergency services and broadband internet on already disturbed federal lands.
(Photo Credit: Ian Macari, Committee on Natural Resources, Bruce Westerman, Chairman).