Trump to speed up public-works permits

Posted August 16, 2017

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday created to significantly shorten the time it takes federal agencies to approve road, highway, bridge and other infrastructure projects.

Although a copy of the EO had not yet been posted to the White House's official website by the time the president emerged in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan to discuss it with reporters, he confirmed earlier reports from a White House source that the EO's streamlined regulatory process calls for "one federal decision" in determining whether an infrastructure project goes forward. It revokes an Obama-era executive order aimed at reducing exposure to flooding, sea level rise and other consequences of climate change. This is going to happen quickly. "More efficient and effective federal infrastructure decisions can transform our economy, so the federal government, as a whole, must change the way it processes environmental reviews and authorization decisions". "And by the way, if it doesn't meet environmental safeguards, we're not going to approve it - very simple", Trump said at a press conference at Trump Tower in NY. "Combined with the termination of the federal flood risk management standard, signed by former President Obama in 2015, the construction boom could result in new roads that are susceptible to flood damage and taxpayer losses, some experts say".

During his presidential campaign, Trump pledged to improve the nation's infrastructure. "But today, it could take as long as a decade". The order also establishes an inter-agency working group to identify and remove impediments in regulations and environmental permitting policies.

The American Petroleum Institute said in a statement that the order reflects recommendations the oil industry lobby group submitted to the Commerce Department in March. According to to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), the United States has experienced increasingly frequent, and costly, inland flood events in recent years due to more intense precipitation associated with climate change.

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The administration proposes $200 billion in government funding over 10 years as part of a goal of getting $1 trillion in public and private infrastructure spending.

The Obama administration required all federal agencies apply the standard to public infrastructure projects from housing to highways.

"What this order will do is ensure that we will waste more taxpayer money because federal agencies will no longer have to consider long-term flood risks to federally funded infrastructure projects", said Jessica Grannis, who manages the adaptation program at the Georgetown Climate Center.