Trump Administration Looking to Speed up Environmental Permitting

A proposal to streamline environmental permitting for big infrastructure projects will be completed by the Trump Administration, an administration official said on Wednesday. This will mark a key step to cut red tape for industry over the objections of conservationists.

Enacted in 1970, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), requires comprehensive studies be conducted into the potential environmental impacts of big proposed projects like pipelines and highways before they can proceed. President Donald Trump said the federal environmental review process for major projects was overly complex and had led to unnecessary delays.

According to the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) study conducted for 1,161 Environmental Impacts Statements (EISs), the average completion time was 4.5 years for projects since 2010. With an executive order in 2017, CEQ required to carry out two main tasks: only one federal agency to take the lead on a NEPA review and set a goal of completing the process within a two-year period.

“This is a significant undertaking and I expect we will hold to a fairly ambitious schedule moving through the OIRA process,” Ted Boling, associate director for the NEPA told a group of NEPA consultants. The draft rule to reform NEPA would be sent to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review in June, but did not disclose what changes the proposal would include.