President Trump issued an executive order on environmental permitting Tuesday that seeks to solve a longstanding problem for industry by placing firm time limits on federal agencies to issue permits and punishing those that fail to meet the president’s goals.
“The Executive Order will make the environmental and permitting processes needed for major infrastructure projects more efficient and effective,” according to the White House.
This will be accomplished by eliminating the “patchwork” of agencies conducting separate environmental reviews for one project, coordinating the entire process through what the order calls the “One Federal Decision policy.” This policy places the lead federal agency in charge of collecting all other relevant “environmental reviews and permitting decisions needed for major infrastructure projects,” according to a White House fact sheet.
Strict time lines will be put in place under the order by each agency signing a joint Record of Decision, which gives them 90 days to issue all federal permits.
The order also establishes a “two-year goal” to process all environmental documents for major infrastructure projects.
On top of that, the White House Council on Environmental Quality will develop and implement a government-wide “action plan” to improve the speed and efficiency of environmental reviews.
The White House Council will also handle “disagreements” between federal agencies in order to prevent any delays “amid bureaucratic disputes.”
Added to that, the White House Office of Management and Budget will implement a “two-year Government-wide modernization goal” to ensure federal agencies “take meaningful steps” to achieve the improvements outlined by the order.
OMB will also have the ability to enforce punitive measures based on an agencies lack of performance in meeting the requirements laid out in the order.
“OMB will establish a performance accountability system and score each agency on their implementation of the Executive Order,” the fact sheet said. “Poor performance will be considered in budget formulation and could result in the imposition of available penalties.
“Agencies will also be held accountable for implementing appropriate best practices that are proven to enhance the environmental review and permitting process,” according to the White House.
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