WASHINGTON - The Trump administration
announced on Monday a new effort to speed
environmental reviews for major
infrastructure projects, a White House
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks
on the Infrastructure Initiative at the
Local 18 Richfield Training Site in
Richfield, Ohio, U.S., March 29, 2018.
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 signers include the heads of the
Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and
Urban Development, Transportation, Energy,
and Homeland Security departments, as well
as the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission and Advisory Council
on Historic Preservation.
The memorandum says “one lead federal
agency will be responsible for navigating
major infrastructure projects through the
entire Federal environmental review and
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
Representative Bill Shuster, who heads
the House Transportation Committee, called
the move allowed under a 2015 law a
“positive step forward in the fight against
inefficient, bureaucratic permitting.”
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.
In August, Trump signed an executive
order directing that agencies use the
process for major infrastructure projects.
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.
In February, Trump unveiled a
long-awaited infrastructure plan designed to
encourage spending on improvements by
states, localities and private investors,
but it faces an uncertain fate in Congress.
Trump asked Congress to authorize $200
billion over 10 years to spur a projected
$1.5 trillion in road, bridge and other
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.
Trump’s top infrastructure adviser D.J.
Gribbin is expected to depart the White
House later this week, an administration
official said Monday. The administration is
considering a number of potential candidates
to replace him.