Trump Signs Order Undoing Environmental Protections to Speed Projects

(CN) – President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will role back environmental protections and streamline the federal permitting process to speed the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure across the country.

Trump unveiled the plan in Manhattan, where he was joined by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but the news was largely overshadowed by the president’s explosive comments in response to questions about his response to the white nationalist rally that left one dead and several injured in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend.

Before his press conference turned into shouting match with reporters, Trump spoke enthusiastically about the chances of getting his infrastructure plan through Congress.

“I think we’ll have bipartisan support,” Trump said.

As he spoke, the president stood before a six-foot long flow chart that he said showed the permitting regulations required to build a highway in a state he declined to name.

Trump said because of the mountain of regulations, the highway project took 17 years to complete. He said the chances he’s proposing would reduce the size of completion of such a project down to two years.

“We used to have the greatest infrastructure anywhere in the world, and today we’re like a third-world country,” Trump said. “No longer will we allow the  infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay.”

But a key provision of the president’s plan roles back Obama administration standards that required federal regulators to account for climate change and sea-level rise when building infrastructure. The rule, known as the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, was implemented by executive order in 2015.

It would also institute a “one federal decision policy” under which one lead federal agency would oversea environmental and other permitting decisions in consultation with other departments and agencies.

According to the White House, agencies will be asked to complete environmental reviews within two years, and all federal permitting decisions will have to be completed in 90 days.

“It’s going to be a very streamlined process, and by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’ve not going to approve it,” Trump said.

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