Trump administration to speed environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects

Vastavam web: The Trump administration announced on Monday a new effort to speed environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects, a White House official said.U.S. President Donald Trump has made shortening the often lengthy timetable to get approvals for new highways, runways and other projects a key focus of his infrastructure reform plans.

Trump presided over the signing of the “One Federal Decision” memorandum of understanding by members of his cabinet after a meeting with agency heads.The memorandum says “one lead federal agency will be responsible for navigating major infrastructure projects through the entire Federal environmental review and permitting process.”

The agencies will work to develop a single environmental Impact Statement and sign a single record of decision and the lead agency will seek written agreement from other agencies at key points. It also seeks to try to quickly resolve interagency disputes.Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said local residents should have input in major projects and downplayed the memorandum.

“Trump’s much ballyhooed infrastructure plan has been diminished to little more than an ideological attack on environmental safeguards,” Slesinger said.Trump has vowed to end “the painfully slow, costly and time-consuming process for getting permits and approvals to build.”

The Republican president, who was a New York-based real state developer before taking office, has repeatedly decried the process of winning approval for highway permitting. “It includes 16 different approvals involving 10 different federal agencies being governed by 26 different statutes,” Trump said last year.Trump asked Congress to authorize $200 billion over 10 years to spur a projected $1.5 trillion in road, bridge and other projects.

The proposal has come under fire from Democrats who said it would put a huge burden on local governments without providing enough federal dollars.Trump’s proposal also seeks legislative approval to sweep away environmental and other regulatory hurdles to new projects.