The Trump administration has issued an Executive Order and a series of memoranda relating to energy and the environment.
The goal of the Executive Order–Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects–is to expedite environmental reviews and approvals. It provides that action by the Chair of the Counsel of Environmental Quality to designate an infrastructure project as high priority would trigger an expedited review and approval process, as described in the memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing.
Prior to the inauguration, the transition team released a list of 50 emergency and national security infrastructure projects that would be candidates for funding. Such projects would presumably be candidates for priority review under the recent Executive Order.
Two other memoranda–those addressing the construction of the Keystone Pipeline and construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline–are intended to clear the way for approval of these two controversial pipelines. The President also stated that he wants pipe for U.S. pipelines to be made with American steel. “High Priority Infrastructure Projects” are defined in the Executive Order to include pipelines, which would thus be candidates for expedited environmental reviews.
Finally, the White House issued a memorandum providing for a regulatory freeze of regulations that have not taken effect and withdrawal of regulations that have not yet been published in the Federal Register. In accordance with this directive, EPA has issued a notice postponing to March 21, 2017 the effective date of 30 regulations that were published by EPA after October 28, 2016. The delay is intended to provide further review of these regulations by the new Administration.
The Order and memoranda do not change the requirements of relevant environmental statutes. It remains to be seen to what extent these policies will affect future permitting or regulatory decisions. Interested parties will wish to carefully monitor how these developments unfold.