US President Donald Trump has announced alterations to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) in a move which he said would speed up the review process of major infrastructure projects.
“This is a historical breakthrough that means better roads and highways,” said President Trump, announcing the changes in Atlanta, Georgia, US. “We are reclaiming America’s proud heritage as a nation that gets things done.”
As part of the changes to the NEPA, Trump said that the review time frame will be cut down to two years or less and claimed that it would reduce approval time for highways alone by 70%.
Chief executive officer of the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA), Doug Carlson, commented, “The President’s call to action on infrastructure should be a top priority. Our utility construction members can modernise America’s highways, water and wastewater systems, broadband lines, and pipelines - and help put this nation safely back to work.
“Eliminating unnecessary delays that hold up infrastructure projects will increase project resources and get our employees back on the job building our nation’s infrastructure.”
Infrastructure investment has been a key battleground between President Trump and the Democratic party, with each side making various proposals but seemingly unwilling to work together to get a Bill passed into law. Infrastructure in the US is underfunded.
The NEPA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970. It requires federal agencies to be transparent and consult with the public before embarking on infrastructure projects that could impact the environment.
Numerous environmental groups have voiced their opposition to Trump’s plans. Brett Hartl from the Center for Biological Diversity said the move would, “weaken safeguards for air, water, wildlife and public lands.”