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New House Transportation Proposal Would Reform Project Environmental Review

Posted by Larry Ehl on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Transportation Issues Daily House Transportation Chair John Mica intends to release text of the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs” act perhaps as soon as Friday.  Action is tentatively scheduled for February 2. See “Federal Transportation Bill Moving in House” and “5 Big Proposed Changes in the New House Transportation Bill Proposal” for more information. The proposal contains a number of reforms designed to speed project delivery.  The summary that leaked out Monday includes this quote: “By cutting the project review process time in half, we can ensure environmental protections remain in place while investing infrastructure resources in the much more effective manner.” From a summary: Efficient Environmental Reviews:
  • Condenses the final environmental impact statement and combines it with the record of decision
  • Provides a single system to review decisions and reduce bureaucratic delay by requiring concurrent reviews and setting deadlines for approvals
  • Classifies projects in the right-of-way as categorical exclusions under NEPA.
Clarifies Eligibility for Pre-Construction Activities
  • Allows for acquisition of land during NEPA where the transaction itself does not cause a change in the area’s land use or cause adverse environmental  effects.
  • Encourages corridor preservation to reduce project costs, delays, and impacts on communities
  • Allows detailed design prior to NEPA completion at state expense, making such work eligible for federal reimbursement only if the project is subsequently approved
Promotes Integrated Planning and Programmatic Approaches
  • Builds on the efforts in section 6001 of SAFETEA-LU and allows environmental decisions made in the planning process to be carried forward into the NEPA process
  • Clarifies authority for programmatic approaches (rather than project-by-project reviews).
  • Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.

Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.

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