President Trump signed an executive order on Aug. 15 aimed at speeding the federal permitting process for transportation and other infrastructure projects.
Speaking at the Trump Tower in New York alongside transportation secretary Elaine Chao, he said builders have to navigate up to 16 approvals, 9 agencies, and 29 statutes. That can result in delays of years or even decades, costing millions of dollars, he said.
The result is a “self-inflicted wound on our country,” Trump said.
Full text of the order is not yet available, but multiple media outlets are reporting it revokes an earlier executive order signed by President Obama requiring that many infrastructure projects factor in potential sea level from climate change.
A brief fact sheet posted on the White House web site does not reference that measure, but says it implements a “One Federal Decision policy” under which the lead agency will work with other relevant agencies to speed decisions. It sets out a two-year goal to process environmental documents for major projects.
There was no signing ceremony, and the question-and-answer session that followed was almost exclusively focused on this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, VA.
Shortly after Trump’s announcement the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates said in a statement “cutting red tape reduces project costs, thus allowing states to avoid having to rely on alternative revenue sources like tolls. Tolls are counterintuitive to building a lasting transportation network.”
The group urged Trump to “reject tolls in his infrastructure plan.”
At the very end of the press conference, Trump predicted an infrastructure bill will pass and with bipartisan support.