EO 13807: Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects (2017)

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On August 15, 2017, the President signed Executive Order 13807 titled “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects.” The EO is geared toward obtaining more efficient and effective federal infrastructure decisions and to change the way the Federal Government processes environmental reviews and authorization decisions. The EO states, “Inefficiencies in current infrastructure project decisions, including management of environmental reviews and permit decisions or authorizations, have delayed infrastructure investments, increased project costs, and blocked the American people from enjoying improved infrastructure that would benefit our economy, society, and environment.”

Among its provisions, the EO states that “processing of environmental reviews and authorization decisions for new major infrastructure projects should be reduced to not more than an average of approximately 2 years” measured from publication of the notice of intent to prepare an EIS or other benchmark designated by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Energy production and generation (including from fossil, renewable, nuclear, and hydro sources) and electricity transmission are among the types of infrastructure projects addressed by EO 13807.  A “major infrastructure project” is one for which “multiple authorizations” by federal agencies will be required to proceed with construction, the lead federal agency has determined that it will prepare an EIS, and “the project sponsor has identified the reasonable availability of funds sufficient to complete the project." EO 13807 establishes an approach called “One Federal Decision” for use with major infrastructure projects. Under this approach, a lead federal agency is responsible for navigating the project through the federal environmental review and authorization process. Involved federal agencies “shall all agree to a permitting timetable” and agencies shall record their individual decisions in a single record of decision, unless certain conditions specified in the EO apply. The framework for implementing “One Federal Decision” will be developed in consultation with the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) established under Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41). The EO also requires agencies to establish an accountability and tracking system to ensure that project review schedules are met, the guidance for which will be issued in consultation with the FPISC.  The Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard (https://www.permits.performance.gov/) tracks the Federal Government's environmental review and authorization processes for covered major infrastructure projects.

On September 14, 2017, the Council on Environmental Quality published a notice in the Federal Register (https://ceq.doe.gov/nepa-practice/infrastructure.html) announcing an initial list of actions it will take to enhance and modernize the federal environmental review and authorization process for infrastructure projects developed pursuant to EO 13807.

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