Today, as President Obama meets with his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Administration is announcing the selection of 14 infrastructure projects around the country that will be expedited through permitting and environmental review processes. This is an important next step in the Administration’s efforts to improve the efficiency of federal reviews needed to help job-creating infrastructure projects move as quickly as possible from the drawing board to completion. And it’s just one example of the President’s commitment to cutting red tape to help create jobs – the lessons we learn from expediting these projects will help us reform and improve the permitting and review process in the future.
Today’s announcement comes as a result of the Presidential Memorandum President Obama issued in late August at the recommendation of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.Through the Presidential Memorandum, the President directed agencies to expedite environmental reviews and permit decisions for a selection of high priority infrastructure projects that will create a significant number of jobs, have already identified necessary funding, and where the significant steps remaining before construction are within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government and can be completed within 18 months. The projects the agencies chose represent diverse sectors of the economy and combined will support the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.
Improving the federal government’s permitting and environmental review process is one of several areas where the Administration has made strides implementing the Jobs Council’s recommendations and promoting job growth. From helping small businesses grow, to bolstering travel and tourism to the U.S., to cutting through regulatory red tape, the Administration has aggressively promoted job growth in line with the Jobs Council recommendations. For example, by accelerating payments from federal agencies to small business government contractors, we’re getting money into the hands of small businesses faster so they can reinvest that money in the economy and drive job growth. We are also streamlining existing regulations, with a priority on implementing changes that benefit small businesses and spur job growth.
As the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has highlighted, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of federal permit decisions and environmental reviews is one critical step the federal government can take to accelerate job creation. While many of these review processes are not under the control of the federal government -- state, local, and tribal governments are partners in the effort, as well -- the Obama Administration is committed to reforming the federal permitting and environmental review process to ensure that it runs as efficiently as possible while continuing to protect the health and safety of all Americans, and to preserve opportunities for public participation in federal decision-making. That’s why starting at the end of November, the public will also be able to track the progress of projects under review through one central web page. Stay tuned for more news about that in the near future.
In addition to unveiling the projects selected for expedited review today, the Administration will also instruct agencies throughout the executive branch to gather comprehensive information regarding their reviews of infrastructure projects, and the best practices they have developed. The Administration will use that information to develop recommendations to further improve the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of Federal permitting and environmental review, without compromising our responsibility to protect safety, public health, and the environment, through measures such as adopting sector-specific guidelines for timely reviews of permitting applications; encouraging early engagement with stakeholders; coordinating federal reviews with those of state, local and tribal regulatory agencies; and instituting greater oversight of the overall process.