WASHINGTON — The Trump administration streamlined the way federal and state agencies will assess the environmental impact of proposed critical infrastructure projects through a new process that includes better engagement with the public and Native American tribes.
In an event in Atlanta at UPS, President Trump said the clunky 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which hasn’t had a major revision in 40 years, until now, had morphed into redundant compliance requirements and an unreasonably laborious review process that has delayed each infrastructure project, from roads to bridges to pipelines, by seven years on average.
“Under the old NEPA rule, the energy industry was constrained by overlapping and redundant regulations and an unnecessarily lengthy environmental assessment for each infrastructure project,” said Barry Worthington, executive director, USEA, in a statement. “Regardless of politics, this hurt all American energy consumers and our allies who rely on our resources.
“President Trump is not rolling back regulations or removing environmental protections,” continued Worthington. “Duplicative regulations make no sense. Why should several agencies or several states assess the exact same impact of a project? The old NEPA rule was like having to get a driver’s license from 50 different states. It was in need of an update.
“Waiting seven years for a proposed new bridge to start construction is often the reason bridges collapse, like the one in St. Paul, which collapsed in 2007,” he said. “Critical infrastructure cannot wait, and it supersedes party lines. Democrats and the Trump administration agree we need infrastructure. It is one of the great equalizers of our society.
“Critical infrastructure to transport much-needed energy supplies to population centers can’t wait four to seven years to start construction,” he said. “All Americans need to feel secure that the roads and bridges they drive over are safe and modern. They need to rely on reliable electricity and energy supplies to live. That requires pipelines. The NEPA rule will also open the gateway for new renewable energy projects in a timely fashion. This is a bipartisan win.
“Environmental management and energy development go hand in hand,” Worthington continued. “The Trump administration’s environmental policies have allowed our industry to thrive instead of being constrained. Our environment is protected, and our citizens are protected.
“Infrastructure expansion boosts our economy, while pipeline infrastructure helps improve our environment,” concluded Worthington. “After all, it’s natural gas that has helped drive down carbon emissions notwithstanding the drop in global emissions we’ve seen during this global pandemic. Infrastructure expansion puts the U.S. in a position of strength in the world. We are global suppliers of energy and leaders in energy access expansion. Trump administration policies to rollback redundant regulations encourage production and infuse certainty in the energy market. This creates jobs, grows our economy, and propagates prosperity across the nation in all communities."
For more information, visit www.usea.org.