Obama Urges Faster Track for Projects
Calling for more green lights and less red tape, President Obama has announced an initiative to halve the time needed to launch infrastructure construction projects.
The Presidential Memorandum—"Modernizing Federal Infrastructure Review and Permitting Regulations, Policies, and Procedures"—was announced Friday (May 17).
The plan tasks a federal panel with reviewing the entire process for infrastructure construction, to identify efficiencies and best practices in permitting, technologies and processes. At every stage, the goal is to expedite processes, streamline coordination, and prune delays and redundancies that slow projects.
"Our workers are at our best when we're building stuff," Obama said in a speech at Ellicott Dredges, a dredge equipment manufacturing company in Baltimore. "So today, I'm announcing the next step in our effort to cut through red tape that keeps big construction projects from getting off the ground."
"Now, some of you, if you've heard me, I'm really big on us rebuilding our infrastructure in this country," said Obama. "I want to put people back to work improving our roads, our bridges, our airports, our ports."
The memorandum gives the Steering Committee on Federal Infrastructure Permiting and Review Process Improvement 60 days to identify and prioritize opportunities to modernize key regulations, policies and procedures to reduce time.
The committee has 120 days from the memorandum date to prepare a plan for permitting infrastructure projects that identifies proposed actions and timelines to:
President Obama said it took too long for projects to get off the ground. His memorandum directs federal agencies to identify technologies and processes that can cut that time in half.
'We Could Do It Faster'
"So we've got to up our game when it comes to infrastructure," Obama said. "[O]ne of the problems we've had in the past is, is that sometimes it takes too long to get projects off the ground. There are all these permits and red tape and planning, and this and that, and some of it's important to do, but we could do it faster."
"Today, I'm directing agencies across the government to do what it takes to cut timelines for breaking ground on major infrastructure projects in half."
Infrastructure sectors covered by the effort include surface transportation, ports, water resources and systems, renewable energy generation, conventional energy production in high-demand areas, electricity transmission, broadband and pipelines.
The modernization effort builds on Executive Order 13604, "Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects," which Obama implemented in March 2012.