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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Chao signs MOU to shorten infrastructure project reviews, permitting

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Monday joined President Donald Trump and other cabinet members in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that calls for federal departments to follow Trump's One Federal Decision framework for processing environmental reviews and other permits for major infrastructure projects.

Under the memorandum, the agencies commit to working together to make the necessary environmental and permitting decisions for major infrastructure projects with a goal to complete the entire process within two years, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) press release.

The agreement calls for agencies to process reviews in accordance with four principles:
• Establish a lead federal agency for the complete process;
• Commit to meeting the lead federal agency's permitting timetable;
• Commit to conduct the necessary review processes concurrently; and
• Agree to automatic elevation of interagency disputes.

"The [USDOT] has been vigorously implementing the president's One Federal Decision policy since last August to reduce costs and unnecessary burdens that have long delayed infrastructure projects," said Chao. "It is essential for all Federal resource agencies to work together to cut red tape and deliver infrastructure and safety improvements more rapidly and spurring economic growth."

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