DOT Issues Environmental Streamlining Guidance

On August 23, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a notice seeking public comment on two “interim” policies: one to limit environmental impact statements to a maximum of 150 pages – with a recommendation that they “not exceed” 75 pages – and the other to coordinate those federal reviews under the “One Federal Decision” executive order with a goal of completing them within two years. Both directives are intended to speed up the environmental review process for transportation projects.

The executive order, issued in August 2017, requires major infrastructure projects to be processed as "one federal decision" with a comprehensive schedule, and automatic notice to senior agency officials upon missing or extending a permitting schedule milestone. It requires that each major infrastructure project have a lead federal agency that will be "responsible for navigating the project through the federal environmental review and authorization process." DOT issued a memo detailing how the executive order would apply to transportation projects. Both proposals are open for comment for 30 days. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed FAST Act reauthorization legislation at the end of July which would statutorily implement the “one federal Decision” EO.

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