On Jan. 9, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed important steps to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, which can be a circuitous, time-intensive, and costly environmental review step for many infrastructure projects.
AGC is pleased the proposal appears to set clear timelines for completing reviews as well as clear up ambiguous wording and definitions that have led to litigation and delayed projects over the years – steps recommended by AGC in the prior comment period.
“The administration is right to seek to make the review process more efficient and cost effective without sacrificing environmental protections, thereby allowing the public to receive and benefit from cleaner water, safer roads and bridges, and a more reliable energy system in a timelier fashion,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America in a statement on CEQ’s proposal. “The problem with the current environmental review process is that it long stopped being about evaluating the environmental impacts of a proposed project and has become a way for special interest groups to further their agenda by holding needed infrastructure and development projects hostage to countless lawsuits and delays.”
An initial review of the proposal highlights other AGC-supported provisions to streamline the process such as: facilitating a single environmental impact statement (EIS) and single record of decision; promoting the role of the lead agency; limiting the range of project alternatives to evaluate; and promoting early and effective public outreach. In the coming weeks, AGC will review the proposal in-depth with an eye towards providing further recommendations to improve or strengthen the streamlining reforms. READ MORE (AGC)