Reuters reports an advisory council on infrastructure has proposed an arbitration-style pilot program to cut the lengthy permit processing time it takes to break ground on projects, without short-changing environmental standards. The current permitting procedures can hold up actual construction for years, which is a concern to the administration's desire to quickly launch projects and create jobs.
Council member Richard LeFrak said the group is looking at a pilot program similar to the arbitration process used in bankruptcy court to speed up proposals. The idea would be to hammer out differences and objections faster so projects could get underway in less time.
“Somebody in authority would make the decisions, all the mitigation that should be coming out of it, whether it’s environmental mitigation, other mitigation, gets decided at that moment and that’s it,” he said. “It’s just a proposal. We’re asking them to try it.” LeFrak noted that Australia, Canada and Germany typically take two years to approve infrastructure projects compared with 10 years in the United States.
Environmental groups are concerned that between the president's anticipated 25 percent cut in the EPA and less time to evaluate environmental impacts, an expedited process with less oversight could jeopardize the nation's water, soil and air.
Read more of LeFrak's comments here on Reuters.com