Friday, August 18, 2017

Trump Order On Infrastructure Environmental Reviews May Impact State Decisions Under Delegated Federal Programs

The 13-page order seeks to address what the Trump Administration believes are inefficiencies associated with infrastructure project decisions, including by limiting National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews to “not more than an average of approximately [two] years.”
Infrastructure projects include: a project that involves multiple authorizations from Federal agencies to develop the public and private physical assets that are designed to provide or support services to the general public in the following sectors:  surface transportation, including roadways, bridges, railroads, and transit; aviation; ports, including navigational channels; water resources projects; energy production and generation, including from fossil, renewable, nuclear, and hydro sources; electricity transmission; broadband internet; pipelines; stormwater and sewer infrastructure; drinking water infrastructure; and other sectors as may be determined by the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.
One Federal Decision
A new One Federal Decision protocol is also established for major infrastructure projects where multiple federal agencies have permit responsibility, under which a lead federal agency will work with other relevant federal agencies to complete needed environmental reviews and permitting decisions.
The EO stipulates that federal agencies will sign a joint Record of Decision and issue required federal permits 90 days later.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, will develop a two-year modernization goal, establish a performance accountability system, and score each federal agency quarterly on implementation of the EO and of appropriate best practices.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is charged with developing an action plan to improve government-wide environmental reviews and mediate disagreements between federal agencies.
Guidelines To States
The Executive Order notes that “CEQ and OMB shall also develop guidance for applying One Federal Decision whenever the lead agency is a [s]tate, tribal, or local agency exercising an assignment or delegation of an agency's NEPA responsibilities.”
The new EO revokes the January 2015 EO 13690 related to establishing a federal flood risk management standard which prevented federal investments in infrastructure projects that would be subject to flooding, including as a result of sea level rise.
It also directs the Department of Interior to provide a multi-agency reorganization effort and incorporate the strategy into the comprehensive reorganization plan directed in March by EO 13781, which includes the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement which have oversight of the mining and reclamation programs in states like Pennsylvania.
DOI is also the lead on identification and designation of “energy right-of-way corridors” on federal land for expedited environmental review for energy infrastructure projects.
In January 2017, the White House released the Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects, which called for identification of high-priority infrastructure projects and for CEQ to coordinate with relevant federal agencies to expedite procedures and deadlines for completion of environmental reviews.
Click Here for a copy of the infrastructure order.  Click Here for a fact sheet on the order issued by the White House.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner