Sneak Preview: Guidance Issued on HUD Environmental Reviews

Jerry Ashworth
July 18, 2019 at 09:58:19 ET
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(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Development Handbook.) The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently issued guidance for state, local and Indian tribal governments that accept responsibility for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) environmental reviews under Executive Order 13807.

President Trump in August 2017 signed E.O. 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects, which requires federal agencies to process environmental review and authorization decisions for “major infrastructure projects” as “One Federal Decision.” “Major infrastructure projects” are defined as those projects that require multiple federal authorizations for which a lead agency has decided to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) (Pub. L. 91-190), as amended, and for which the project sponsor has identified reasonable availability of funds. Under the “One Federal Decision” approach, a lead federal agency is responsible for navigating the project through the federal environmental review and authorization process.

E.O. 13807 seeks to change the way the federal government processes environmental reviews and authorization decisions. “Inefficiencies in current infrastructure project decisions, including management of environmental reviews and permit decisions or authorizations, have delayed infrastructure investments, increased project costs and blocked the American people from enjoying improved infrastructure that would benefit our economy, society and environment,” E.O. 13807 states.

Among its provisions, the order states that the processing of environmental reviews and authorization decisions for new major infrastructure projects should be reduced to not more than an average of about two years, measured from publication of the notice of intent to prepare an EIS or other benchmark designated by OMB. Under the “One Federal Decision” process, involved federal agencies agree to a permitting timetable, and agencies record their individual decisions in a single record of decision, unless certain conditions specified in E.O. 13807 apply.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)
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