President Donald Trump announces executive order streamlining permitting process on infrastructure

Robert J. Samuelson

Critics say there's danger in streamlining the reviews. The infrastructure Executive Order will require agencies to track the costs of conducting environmental reviews and making permitting decisions. That agency would be the primary point of contact for the project and help guide the project through the stages of the environmental review process. "We disagree with today's executive order, and hope the President will reconsider his decision so that our country can reduce the loss of lives and property to disasters, and reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on rebuilding and repairing communities after a major storm strikes", the organisation said in an August 15 statement.

The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, established by Obama in an executive order, required federally-funded infrastructure projects to "address current and future flood risk and ensure that projects funded with taxpayer dollars last as long as intended".

While Trump promised that the federal government would not approve projects that do not meet environmental standards, the executive order he signed would revoke an environmental regulation enacted under former President Barack Obama.

The order also sets a "two-year goal for completion of the permitting process", and looks to boost "accountability for federal agencies involved in the permitting process", according to White House officials.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday repealed stringent building standards aimed at protecting government-financed projects in flood-prone areas by accounting for sea-level rise associated with climate change.




Carlos Curbelo, a Republican in the House of Representatives who serves South Florida, said spending vast amounts of infrastructure that would not stand up to the changing weather was a false economy. Asked whether infrastructure could be done this year given the items ahead of it, Cohn said, "We hope it's this year".

Corporate chief executive officers this week had started to quit both the American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum in protest over Trump's remarks that appeared to confer legitimacy on white supremacists following a violent rally August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was authorized by Congress in 2015 and implemented by Obama. The new Executive Order establishes a two-year goal to process environmental documents for major infrastructure projects. In terms of actual infrastructure systems, the United States does not even rank in the top 10 countries in the world.

That's particularly important for private-sector investors, who have capital available but lack enough projects and certainty about deals, Chao has said. It's going to be a very streamlined process.

"We don't trust that this will be a good thing", said Scott Edwards, co-director of the justice project at Food & Water Watch, a Washington-based environmental group.

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