By: Christopher S. Drewry, Drewry Simmons Vornehm, LLP
You may have heard a little something about this, but President Donald Trump held a press conference Tuesday. No, this is not a post discussing the events which took place in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend; nor is it about President Trump’s comments about it. Rather than discussing that low-hanging fruit, I want to highlight some other important news that came from that press conference, namely the announcement on the infrastructure plan. Specifically, President Trump announced that he had signed an executive order which is designed to drastically speed up the approval process for the construction of infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and pipelines.
Previously, President Trump outlined a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, but there has not yet been any legislation passed on the subject. Nevertheless, the executive order takes steps to effectuate the plan. It strives to expedite the environmental permitting process to as little as two years (as opposed to the average of seven years for complex highway projects). The executive order also unwinds Obama-era standards which required federally funded projects to account for climate change and rising sea levels. Additionally, the order calls for a lead federal agency to serve as the point-of-contact for each project’s paperwork and review process, and it requires decisions on federal permits to be made within 90 days.
Specific details with the infrastructure plan remain unknown, but there is no denying that this executive order is an affirmative step by President Trump in his promise to bolster the nation’s infrastructure.