Trump’s infrastructure executive order intended to speed process

By Patrick C. Miller | August 18, 2017

President Donald Trump last week signed an executive order aimed at establishing discipline and accountability in the process used for infrastructure permitting and environmental review.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) commended the action as they jointly released a new study on union pipeline employment across the county. It reviews pipeline jobs data from actual hours worked on pipeline projects in 29 states and estimates for skilled trades jobs associated with pipeline construction.

The intent of the executive order is to ensure that the federal environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects is coordinated, predictable, and transparent. Under the order, the policies of the federal government will be to:

-          Safeguard communities and maintain a healthy environment;  

-          Ensure that federal authorities make informed decisions on the environmental impacts of projects;

-          Develop infrastructure in an environmentally sensitive manner;

-          Provide transparency and accountability to the public on environmental review and authorization decisions;  

-          Avoid duplication and the waste of public funds;

-          Give public and private investors confidence in making funding decisions for new infrastructure projects;

-          Coordinate communications when conducting reviews and making decisions; and

-          Make timely decisions with the goal of completing environmental reviews and authorization decisions within two years.

In signing the order, Trump said obtaining approvals for major projects can take more than 10 years.  “Highway builders must get up to 16 different approvals involving nine different federal agencies governed by 29 different statutes,” he said.  “One agency alone can stall a project for many, many years, and even decades.”

He said these delays cost the economy billions of dollars and denies the country safe, modern infrastructure. “This overregulated permitting process is a massive self-inflicted wound on our country—it’s disgraceful—denying our people much-needed investments in their community,” Trump noted. 

Jack Gerard, API president and CEO said, “Ensuring we have a robust energy infrastructure system that protects the environment and keeps pace with growing production and demand is essential to helping American families and businesses have reliable access to affordable energy.”

API submitted comments in March to the Department of Commerce noting that the business community, including the oil and natural gas industry, relies upon a cost-effective regulatory system that promotes the certainty and predictability necessary to make the massive capital investments required to bring energy and other projects to the U.S. economy.

Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said, “Our state has seen the consequences of a flawed permitting and environmental review process for infrastructure projects. When dozens of agencies require approval before large projects can go forward, nothing ever gets built. President Trump, through his actions this week to help renew our crumbling infrastructure, shows he gets it when it comes to fixing the government red-tape surrounding these projects. I applaud the president for his actions and stand ready to get to work in Congress on passing an infrastructure bill.”