Feds move to expedite major infrastructure project review, permitting

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency; CP staff

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and six federal agency or department counterparts joined President Donald Trump in an Oval Office meeting to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to the One Federal Decision framework for major infrastructure projects.

Under the MOU, the agencies commit to working together to make necessary environmental and permitting decisions and complete the entire process within two years. It compels them to establish a lead agency to navigate the Federal environmental review and permitting process; abide that agency’s permitting timetable; and, conduct necessary review processes concurrently. The MOU also automatically elevates interagency disputes with an eye to expedited resolution.

“The Department [of Transportation] has been vigorously implementing the President’s ‘One Federal Decision’ policy since last August to reduce costs and unnecessary burdens that have long delayed infrastructure projects,” says Secretary Chao. “It is essential for all Federal resource agencies to work together to cut red tape and deliver infrastructure and safety improvements more rapidly and spurring economic growth.”

“President Trump’s leadership on this issue is the reason we’re making strides to improve the nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” adds EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “[The] MOU will streamline permitting processes and position EPA as a partner, not an obstacle, to making much-needed infrastructure improvements as quickly and safely as possible.”

Along with EPA and DOT, memorandum signatories are the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security and Housing & Urban Development, plus Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.