White & Case LLP
Seth Kerschner and Laura Mulry
February 7, 2018
The Trump Administration is proposing to revise federal environmental requirements and procedures in order to streamline the permitting and approval processes for infrastructure projects. The Administration’s draft proposals, of which there are more than 50, contemplate amending major environmental statutes, redefining the roles and procedures of federal agencies, and limiting judicial action, including by limiting the circumstances under which courts can halt project activities. Federal environmental laws that may be revised include the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”)1, the Endangered Species Act (the “ESA”), the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. The proposals would require significant actions by multiple federal agencies and Congress before implementation.
The Trump Administration indicates that the proposals will reduce redundancies and delays in the environmental permitting and approval processes for infrastructure projects. The proposals limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) review, rating, and veto authority over environmental permits and analyses of infrastructure projects, set firm deadlines on environmental reviews, and allow federal agencies to delegate environmental review power to the states. The proposals also require a general rewrite of NEPA regulations with the goal of streamlining the NEPA review process. One proposal with the aim of timely agency reviews limits the NEPA review process to two (2) years in total (i.e., 21 months to conclude the NEPA document, plus three months for permits to be issued).