The celebration of President Trump’s “Infrastructure Week,” kicked off on Tuesday with much optimism at Trump Towers and followed shortly after by an Executive Order to expedite the permitting process, ended today with the president dropping his plans to create an advisory infrastructure council. Regardless of the president’s decision to abandon his council, which included energy industry executives, as well as real estate, finance and labor representatives, most viewed the Executive Order as a positive development. Washington politics aside, what does the Executive Order mean for energy industry developers? Will it, in fact, have a meaningful impact by providing a more “coordinated, predictable, and transparent” environmental review and permitting process?
- Applies only to projects that require an environmental impact statement (EIS);
- Reiterates that FERC as the “lead Federal agency” is responsible for navigating pipeline and LNG projects through the Federal environmental review process, and establishing a timeline with cooperating agencies to ensure that all Federal authorization decisions are completed within 90 days of the issuance of the EIS;
- Requires FERC to establish performance metrics to facilitate the conduct of environmental reviews and decisions to achieve the Order’s stated goal of processing environmental reviews and authorization decisions within, on average, 2 years following the date of the publication of a notice of intent to prepare an EIS;
- Does not apply to state agencies that have been delegated authority to issue Federally required authorizations, such as Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certificates.