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EPA Administrator Pruitt Praises Permitting MOU to Accelerate Crucial Infrastructure Projects

04/09/2018
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WASHINGTON  — Today, 12 federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signed the One Federal Decision Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU establishes a coordinated and timely process for environmental reviews of major infrastructure projects. 

“President Trump’s leadership on this issue is the reason we’re making strides to improve the nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Today’s MOU will streamline permitting processes and position EPA as a partner, not an obstacle, to making much-needed infrastructure improvements as quickly and safely as possible.”

The MOU streamlines the bureaucratic and burdensome environmental review and permitting process that serve as a barrier to major infrastructure projects. Under the MOU, a lead federal agency will be designated to guide each major infrastructure project through the environmental review and permitting process. It directs federal agencies to agree on a permitting timeline with the goal of completing the entire process within two years, to work together to conduct environmental review and authorization decisions concurrently, and to develop a single record of decision.

Today’s MOU is a major step forward in implementing President Trump’s One Federal Decision (OFD) policy established in Executive Order (E.O.) 13807. The E.O. directed the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality to develop a framework for implementing the OFD policy. EPA and the other federal agencies have agreed to an unprecedented level of cooperation that will lead to better-informed permitting decisions about major infrastructure projects in a more timely and transparent manner. Following the procedures outlined in the MOU, federal agencies will work together to eliminate duplication and costly delays within the environmental review and permitting process while promoting good environmental, community, and economic outcomes. 

In addition to EPA, the MOU was signed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.

Background:

Under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA has already taken a number of important steps to improve the environmental review and permitting process consistent with the One Federal Decision policy:

  • Established a goal that by September 30, 2022, all permitting related decisions will be made within 6 months. EPA is deploying business process improvement strategies, including a Lean management system, to meet this strategic goal. 
  • Clarified New Source Review and Prevention of Significant Deterioration permitting program requirements under the Clean Air Act, including issuance of a December 2017 guidance memorandum on the enforceability and use of the Actual-to-Projected Actual Applicability Test and a March 2018 memorandum on project emissions accounting.
  • Withdrew the 1995 memorandum establishing the “once in always in” policy under the section 112 of the Clean Air, which served as a major deterrent to improving environmental outcomes.
  • Directed the Office of Policy (OP) in a March 2018 memorandum to oversee an agency-wide review of permitting policies to accelerate permitting related decisions without sacrificing environmental quality and re-delegate responsibility for administering the National Environmental Policy Act to OP.