By: Pat Muth

On August 15, 2017, President Trump announced the Executive Order called: Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process.  Our aging infrastructure is said to cost every household thousands of dollars every year.

The President unrolled a five-foot spreadsheet during his opening remarks.  It showed the complicated permit process now in place. The new process has been streamlined to take two years.   In the past, it has taken too many contractors up to 17 years, to plod through the maze of perm.

Also in the past, some big building projects required builders to face several federal agencies during the many processing phases.  Now, the new executive order establishes “One Federal Decision” meaning, one federal agency will take the lead by navigating the project through the entire process.

Also, within 30 days of the date of this order, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is called to develop a new list of actions to enhance and modernize the Federal Environmental Review and Authorization Process.  The CEQ is instructed to provide an overall plan:

  1. To ensure an authoritative role to the lead” federal agency.
  2.  To ensure more timely and efficient coordination, between those agencies involved in authorizations and environmental reviews.
  3.  To provide earlier environmental studies to appropriate parties from federal, state, tribal, or local environmental reviews and authorizations.
  4.  To reduce unnecessary burdens and delays as much as possible within the guidelines.

Finally, the Departments of Interior and Agriculture will be the lead agencies for identifying “energy right-of-way corridors on Federal lands for Government-wide expedited environmental review for the development of energy infrastructure projects.”

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