New Executive Order Scraps Several Permitting Review Hurdles

On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed a new executive order that rescinds, as recommended by AGC, several Obama administration environmental review/permitting hurdles that could have delayed construction projects. The order, entitled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” rescinds Council on Environmental Quality guidance that required federal agencies to quantify and additionally consider direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions for construction projects during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, for which environmental impact statements already take 4.6 years on average to complete. The order also rescinds an Obama presidential memoranda that created sweeping new authority for several federal permitting agencies, establishing a preference for compensatory mitigation to restore, establish, or enhance the environment within the scope of a construction project where unavoidable adverse environmental impacts may occur.
The order notes that changing or rescinding some of these actions may involve additional notice and comment period to be consistent with the law, which will take time. It does not address how existing case law that upholds certain considerations of greenhouse gasses during NEPA review will continue to affect how agencies handle those impacts. AGC will follow up with additional analysis of the impact of this order on the construction industry.
For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or [email protected].

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