On Dec. 23, ABC and several other organizations submitted comments in support of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposed revisions to its regulations implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Protection Act. These revisions will reflect recent legislation, modernize the environmental review process, improve DOT’s NEPA review efficiency and provide enhanced customer service to stakeholders while ensuring meaningful public involvement.
The comment letter pointed out that the time it takes to complete environmental reviews has increased significantly since DOT last updated its NEPA procedures, which delays constructing transportation projects. “These permitting process delays directly translate to delays in constructing important transportation projects and realizing the associated environmental and safety benefits as well as the reduced congestion that more efficient infrastructure can deliver. When it takes longer to complete the federal approval process than it does to actually build a project, it is an indication that the NEPA process is broken.”
The letter also states, “In addition to bridges, our railways, airways, waterways, energy and industrial facilities, telecommunications networks and other public assets are equally vital to economic activity and our quality of life. The failure to secure timely approval for such projects and for land management decisions is also hampering economic growth. All too often, investment and development in these sectors is negatively affected by NEPA reviews. The current delays, such as those caused by excessive and duplicative environmental reviews drive up construction costs, take away jobs from a variety of industries, and inject uncertainty that discourages private investment.”
The signatories of the letter “support the proposed NEPA updates to increase transparency and predictability as well as improve coordination between federal agencies to eliminate unnecessary barriers that prevent or delay the implementation of critical projects. Improved regulatory predictability would allow businesses to plan and invest with confidence while enhancing economic productivity and efficiency. Such process improvements would also encourage many states and localities to follow federal leadership on approving infrastructure projects and land management activities.”
Previously, on March 10, ABC joined several other organizations in submitting comments to the Council on Environmental Quality in support of proposed revisions to its regulations implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA that had not been updated for more than four decades. On July 15, CEQ issued a final rule, which will eliminate unnecessary delays and reduce costs for the construction sector.
ABC will continue to inform members of any developments on these procedures in Newsline.