On August 15, President Donald J. Trump signed a second executive order "streamlining" the federal environmental permitting process with a goal of making construction of transportation, water, and other infrastructure projects more efficient without harming the environment.

The order implements a "One Federal Decision" policy for major infrastructure projects under which the lead federal agency will work with other relevant federal agencies to navigate a given project through the federal environmental review and authorization process. Similar programs at the state level have helped expedite the state environmental review and authorization process.

The order requires that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) establish goals—within 180 days of the date of the executive order—for the evaluation, authorization, and processing of environmental reviews. When processing major infrastructure projects, the order states that federal agencies should use "One Federal Decision"; develop and follow a permitting timetable; and follow a process that automatically routes instances of missed or extended deadlines to senior agency officials.

Once infrastructure projects are permitted—which, according to the order, should not take more than two years on average—OMB should track whether they comply with the requirements listed in the preceding paragraph and also should note the time and costs involved in conducting environmental reviews and making permitting decisions. A scoring mechanism to aid in making such determinations is described in the order.

The order also revokes a standard set during the administration of former President Barack Obama requiring that builders consider climate change-related sea-level rise when constructing projects in flood plains.

Ballard Spahr's P3/Infrastructure Group advises on public-sector transactions and public-private partnerships (P3s). Attorneys in the Group resolve legal issues—related to public and project finance, real estate, procurement, public policy, labor relations, bankruptcy, tax, and environmental conditions—that arise in these complex transactions. We have a proven track record of working in partnership with government as well as private concessionaires and lenders to bring projects to fruition.

Ballard Spahr's Environment and Natural Resources Group advises on national and regional compliance, permitting, rulemaking, development, business planning, and contamination matters, as well as providing representation in litigation, during investigations, and for transactions.

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