President Donald Trump announced Thursday that his administration would change requirements for environmental reviews, making it easier to get projects approved.
“These endless delays waste money, keep projects from breaking ground, and deny jobs to our nation’s incredible workers,” Trump said, explaining why he was rolling back some of the 40-year-old regulations.
The president announced the plan to modernize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) at the White House.
The new rule changes will help block lawsuits from well-funded environmental groups that slow or derail important projects.
“It’s big government at it’s absolute worst,” Trump said, citing nightmare scenarios of 15-20 year delays for important infrastructure projects.
The reformed NEPA regulations would establish time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements and one year for completion of environmental assessments, according to the White House.
Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler all spoke in favor of the rule, noting that it would restore common sense to the aging NEPA regulations and dramatically speed up the approval process.
“The NEPA process today is too bureaucratic and burdensome and has delayed important environmental projects,” Wheeler said, criticizing the current permitting process as a “Frankenstein of a regulatory regime” and a “welfare program for trial attorneys.”