Monday, May 20, 2013

President Signs Infrastructure Permitting Memorandum

May 17: The White House reports that as part of the Administration's effort to make America a magnet for jobs by building a 21st Century infrastructure, the President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum that will modernize the Federal infrastructure permitting process, cutting timelines in half for major infrastructure projects while creating incentives for better outcomes for communities and the environment. In March 2012, the President issued an Executive Order launching a government-wide initiative to improve the efficiency of Federal review and permitting of infrastructure projects.  Since then, agencies have expedited the review and permitting of 50 major projects, including bridges, transit projects, railways, waterways, roads, and renewable energy.  In just one example, Federal agencies recently approved the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project in New York, saving up to three years on the timeline of a multi-billion project that will help put Americans back to work.
    As a result of the President's Executive Order, agencies have also identified a set of best practices for efficient review and permitting, which range from expanding information technology (IT) tools to strategies for improving collaboration, such as having multiple agencies review a project at the same time, instead of one after the other. The Presidential Memorandum institutionalizes these best practices, directing all relevant agencies to put them into effect.
    The permitting modernization effort represents an important component of the President's larger effort to grow the economy, accelerate job creation, and improve U.S. competitiveness by building a 21st Century infrastructure.  Notably, the President's Budget calls for immediately investing $50 billion in our Nation's transportation infrastructure, with $40 billion devoted to "fix-it-first" projects that target areas in the most urgent need of repair. The President also proposed a "Rebuild America Partnership," creating tools to encourage partnerships between the private sector and Federal, State, and local governments to enhance the role of private capital in U.S. infrastructure investment and ensure America has the best transportation, electric, water, and communications networks in the world.
    Among other items, the Memorandum provides that, "The Steering Committee on Federal Infrastructure Permitting and Review Process Improvement (Steering Committee), established by Executive Order 13604, shall work with the Chief Performance Officer (CPO), in coordination with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), to modernize Federal infrastructure review and permitting regulations, policies, and procedures to significantly reduce the aggregate time required by the Federal Government to make decisions in the review and permitting of infrastructure projects, while improving environmental and community outcomes."
    Access a White House release and link to the first annual Report to the President and the Administration's Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard (click here). Access the Memorandum (click here). [#All] 
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