Railroad News

Presidential Executive Order to streamline permitting process

A newly signed presidential Executive Order aims to reduce the time it takes projects to move through the federal permitting and review processes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) says the Executive Order (EO), "Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects," streamlines the environmental review system and removes current roadblocks in order to ensure a faster and more efficient permitting process for America's major infrastructure projects.

The EO allows the Office of Management and Budget (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 performance.gov.

Additionally, a new "One Federal Decision" will be used to process major projects and provide a comprehensive schedule and automatic elevation to senior agency officials upon missing or extending a milestone. USDOT says 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.

"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," U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said. "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."

Secretary Chao added, "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."

Original author: Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor


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