With an executive order signed yesterday, President Donald Trump has set out to speed up the approval process for major infrastructure projects, including oil and gas pipelines.
The central tenet of the order is the One Federal Decision policy, to replace previous legislation requiring a string of approvals from several relevant federal bodies.
Under Trump’s EO, all relevant agencies will work with a single lead federal agency to review necessary environmental and permit documentation, and then all would sign a joint Record of Decision. The resulting federal permits would be issued no later than 90 days following the Record of Decision.
The order is the latest in a series of moves by the President to roll back regulation passed during Barack Obama’s two terms, aiming to strengthen safeguards against environmental disasters.
According to Trump, however, “This over-regulated permitting process is a massive self-inflicted wound on our country. It’s disgraceful.” The President added “This is going to happen quickly, that’s what I’m signing today. So it’s going to be quick, it’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it. It’s very simple. We’re not going to approve it.”
Trump came into office with an ambitious US$500-billion infrastructure investment program that would likely benefit from an accelerated permitting procedure. Also, there have been complaints from government officials regarding the speed of federal permitting for infrastructure projects.
In oil and gas there were also two recent bills that the House passed last month, aiming to streamline the federal permitting procedure for oil and gas infrastructure projects.
One bill concerns a presidential permit requirement for oil and gas pipelines, as well as energy transmission facilities that cross the U.S. border to Canada and Mexico. The other calls for cementing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as the lead agency on interstate natural gas pipelines.