New York — U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao joined President Donald J. Trump as he signed a new Executive Order to streamline the permitting and review processes for infrastructure projects. The Executive Order, “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects,” streamlines the environmental review system and removes current roadblocks to ensure a faster and more efficient permitting process for America’s major infrastructure projects, the U.S. DOT said.
“The average environmental review takes nearly five years, and infrastructure projects can be subject to at least 65 different requirements and permits,” Secretary Chao said. “This new Executive Order will slash the time it takes to get vital new infrastructure projects approved and delivered.
“At the Department of Transportation, we are already putting the Administration’s principles into action. We’ve identified more than two dozen policies and rules that will streamline project delivery and environmental permitting,” Secretary Chao continued. “We also launched our INFRA grant program to reflect the priorities outlined in the President’s infrastructure initiative, such as incorporating more funding from state, local and private partners, encouraging the use of innovative permitting authorities and bringing greater accountability into the process.
“Together, our goal is to ensure greater impact for every dollar spent, faster project delivery, better performance and a balanced approach that reaches the entire country, urban and rural alike,” she said.
The Executive Order allows OMB, in consultation with Federal Permitting Improvement Screening Council (FPISC) agencies, to establish a Cross Agency Priority (CAP) goal for environmental reviews and permitting of infrastructure projects. OMB will develop a quarterly scorecard of agency progress in meeting the goals, and progress will be tracked on www.performance.gov.
Additionally, the Executive Order requires major infrastructure projects to be processed as “One Federal Decision” with a comprehensive schedule and automatic elevation to senior agency officials upon missing or extending a milestone. The policy of “One Federal Decision” will make the federal government speak with one voice regarding the environmental review and permitting of a major infrastructure project. It also establishes an interagency working group to review each agency’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations and environmental permitting policies for impediments and calls for each agency to develop an action plan for removing those impediments.