The order, “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects,” is expected to streamline environmental reviews and speed up the permitting process specifically for large infrastructure projects.
“The average environmental review takes nearly five years, and infrastructure projects can be subject to at least 65 different requirements and permits,” Chao said.
The order allows the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, 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 these goals, and that progress will be tracked on performance.gov.
In addition, the White House will require large infrastructure projects to be processed as “One Federal Decision” with a “comprehensive schedule and automatic elevation to senior agency officials upon missing or extending a milestone” and “will make the federal government speak with one voice regarding the environmental review and permitting of a major infrastructure project,” the Transportation Department said
Chao said DOT has already identified more than two dozen policies and rules that will improve environmental permitting and project delivery.
Earlier this summer, DOT introduced the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program, which will make about $1.5 billion available to infrastructure projects. In addition to providing direct federal funding, the INFRA program is expected to increase the total investment by state, local, and private partners in infrastructure projects.