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Business Leaders Respond to President Obama's Executive Order on Infrastructure Permitting

Industry leaders say the President's directove for Federal agencies to expedite permitting and review decisions for key infrastructure projects is a critical step in improving our nation’s infrastructure and maintaining our competitive edge.

Last week, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing Federal agencies to expedite permitting and review decisions for key infrastructure projects – a critical step in improving our nation’s infrastructure and maintaining our competitive edge. U.S. business leaders and members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness put out statements in support of the new Executive Order:

NextEra Energy, Inc., Chairman and CEO Lew Hay issued the following statement on the "Executive Order on Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects" :

"America's infrastructure requires continued investment by the private sector and by many government agencies to enhance our global competitiveness and to ensure greater opportunity for the next generation of American entrepreneurs. Such investments in infrastructure, including clean and efficient power generation, are rightly subject to numerous federal regulations to protect the environment, to enhance the health and safety of the American people, to ensure transparency and accountability, and to serve the public interest. Yet the sum total of these regulations, combined with those of states and other jurisdictions, often delay the completion of needed infrastructure projects, or discourage investment in them in the first place. 

"President Obama's Executive Order will help reduce regulatory burdens on private and public infrastructure investment in a thoughtful and transparent manner. By encouraging concurrent reviews, avoiding duplicative requirements, and by expediting early engagement with all potential stakeholders, the President's new Steering Committee has the potential to greatly reduce regulatory uncertainty across the nation. 

"Clearly President Obama has listened to America's business leaders, in the electric utility industry and many others, who have long recommended regulatory reform. We look forward to the implementation of today's Executive Order, and hope it will encourage even greater private investment in America's infrastructure." 

Mark Gallogly Co-founder and Managing Principal, Centerbridge Partners and Member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness supports the President’s Executive Order on Federal Permitting:  

“As a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, I am delighted the President has acted on our recommendations and signed an Executive Order to improve performance of federal permitting and infrastructure projects. This order provides the framework for significant improvement in our federal permitting process, which will create far reaching positive outcomes for our economy. 

Permitting large projects involves coordination and action among multiple government agencies. This Order requires agencies to make faster permitting and review decisions while protecting the environment and our communities. By creating an interagency Steering Committee chaired by OMB’s Chief Performance Officer, the Order will enhance accountability, performance, and transparency while institutionalizing improvements across agencies.” 

American Gas Association: Executive Order to Speed-up Energy Infrastructure Permitting Process Will Help Natural Gas Customers

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today applauded President Obama’s Executive Order for “Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects.”  The goal of the order is to “maintain our nation’s competitive edge and ensure an economy built to last” by expediting permits to upgrade the infrastructure needed to move people, goods, energy and information fast and reliably. AGA supports that goal. 

“We are pleased to see the President’s Executive Order to expedite the permitting process for upgrading our local distribution networks —a move that will help bring clean natural gas to our customers in a safe, efficient and cost effective manner,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of AGA. “The President has recognized the impact of our abundant American supply of natural gas for the environment, the economy and national security and I am pleased to see his actions follow his remarks.” 

McCurdy continued, “AGA’s members are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of our abundant supply of clean, affordable natural gas to homes and businesses throughout the country. The actions federal agencies will take under this Executive Order will help our members install and upgrade infrastructure faster, while continuing to protect the environment.” 

Laura Tyson is a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. She is S.K. and Angela Chan Professor of Global Management, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley:

President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has identified infrastructure investment as a priority to create jobs in the near term and to promote competitiveness in the long run.  After extensive analysis and discussion culminating in an infrastructure summit bringing together leaders from the business and labor communities, the Council has made seven recommendations to encourage more and better investment in the nation’s transportation and broadband infrastructure.  Streamlining federal processes for permitting and approving infrastructure projects is one of these recommendations. As first steps, the Council proposed that the President identify several priority projects and establish a special fast-track permitting process for them, along with a public dashboard to track progress.  The President responded promptly to both of these proposals, identifying 14 priority projects for expedited review and launching the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard last fall. 

Building on this progress, the President has now issued a far-reaching Executive Order on improving performance of federal permitting and review of infrastructure projects. As the Jobs Council recommended, the Executive Order establishes a new high-level interagency steering committee chaired by the Chief Performance Officer in the Office of Management and Budget working in consultation with the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.   The new committee is charged with developing agency plans for expediting permitting and review decisions by the end of May.  The plans will be posted on the federal infrastructure dashboard along with goals and metrics to foster accountability and assess performance by participating agencies and to keep the public engaged and informed. By the end of August, all nationally and regionally significant infrastructure projects must be posted on the dashboard with detailed timelines and schedules.  At the end of the year, the steering committee will provide the President with a detailed progress report. 

The expedited review process for priority projects already posted on the dashboard has yielded significant results.  As an example, the time it takes to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge—a major infrastructure project of significant regional importance—could be cut by 2 to 3 years as a result of streamlined permitting, coordination and partnerships.  

President Obama is committed to increasing job opportunities for American workers and to strengthening US competitiveness.  The Executive Order is another example of his commitment and of his prompt actions to implement the recommendations of his Jobs and Competitiveness Council in ways that emphasize results, accountability and transparency.