Trump Praises New Rule to Speed up Environmental Reviews for Major Infrastructure Projects

President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised a new rule under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to help speed up environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects.

“This is a truly historic breakthrough, which means better roads, bridges, tunnels, and highways for every UPS driver and every citizen all across our land,” Trump said at a visit to a UPS facility in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday. “Together, were reclaiming Americas proud heritage as a nation of builders and a nation that can get things done.”

“Todays action is part of my administrations fierce commitment to slashing the web of needless bureaucracy that is holding back our citizens,” he later said.

NEPA (pdf), a procedural statute enacted in 1970 under the Nixon administration, requires the federal government to assess the impact of major projects on the environment.

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The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) said that the regulations “have been complex and unnecessarily difficult to understand and navigate,” where the result “has been excessive paperwork, litigation, and delays.”

The council added that its final rule (pdf), titled “Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act,” is the first time in more than 40 years it has updated the NEPA regulations. The rule will “benefit the environment, economy, and every American,” it said in a statement (pdf).

The White House said in an announcement that ever since NEPAs enactment, the environmental review process has been “burdensome” for those seeking permits or approvals for their projects, as well as for the federal agencies conducting the reviews.

The latest rule establishes time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements, when required, and one year for completion of environmental assessments.

Federal agencies would take on average about four-and-a-half years to complete full environmental impact reviews, the CEQ noted. In the case of highway projects, that number rises to an average of more than 7 years.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a major dual-span bridge in Maryland, is seen at sunset in Stevensville, Maryland, on May 2, 2020. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

“Under the last administration, a mere 7 percent of reviews for federal highways were processed within 2 years,” Trump said. “Now what were doing is the two years wont be the exception; itll be the rule … This will reduce approval times for highways alone by at least 70 percent.”

Trump said that the One Federal Decision policy, aspects of which have been incorporated into the final rule, lies “at the heart of the reforms.” The One Federal Decision policy was established in a 2017 executive order.

“It really spells it out when you hear that name: One Federal Decision. Before, applicants for infrastructure permits were forced to spend years and years navigating a labyrinth of federal agencies, and every single one had a power to stop a project. Anytime you went to an agency, they had a power to stop it,” the president explained. “And it would stop the project—not only stop it; but right in its tracks it would stop it.

“With our reforms, there will be one quick and fair decision. Were going to give every project a clear answer: Yes or no. Yes or no. The 2-year process, where just to submit is 2 years, is not acceptable. Its going to be a very quick yes or no, afRead More From Source

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