Executive Order (E.O.) 13807: Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects was issued on August 15, 2017. The E.O. requires Federal agencies to process environmental reviews and authorization decisions for “major infrastructure projects” as One Federal Decision (OFD). It also sets a government-wide goal of reducing the average time to complete required environmental reviews and authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects to not more than two years from publication of a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to issuance of a record of decision (ROD). The E.O. also requires all Federal authorization decisions for the construction of these projects to be completed within 90 days of the issuance of a ROD.
The E.O. directs Federal agencies with a role in the environmental review and permitting process for a major infrastructure project to:
- Develop a single permitting timetable or schedule for the necessary environmental review and authorization decisions;
- Prepare a single EIS;
- Sign a single record of decision; and,
- Issue all necessary authorization decisions within 90 days of ROD issuance.
The E.O. ensures that the Federal environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects is coordinated, predictable, and transparent.
On April 9, 2018, the Department of Transportation and several other Departments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) implementing the OFD under E.O. 13807. The MOU sets forth the agreement under which agencies will cooperate to complete environmental reviews and make authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects. It describes the permitting timetable milestones and roles and responsibilities for the lead, cooperating, and participating agencies. It also identifies three concurrence points in the environmental review process where the lead Federal agency must request the concurrence of cooperating agencies with authorization decision responsibilities:
- Purpose and need (prior to the issuance of the notice of intent)
- Alternatives to be carried forward for evaluation (prior to detailed analysis in the draft EIS)
- Identified preferred alternative (prior to the final EIS).
The concurrence points will prevent delays to the permitting timetable by ensuring agencies address key concerns and issues early in the process. Once a concurrence point is reached, lead agencies will request written concurrence, and cooperating agencies have 10 days to concur or non-concur. Concurrence means confirmation by each agency that the information is sufficient for that stage in the process, and the environmental review process may proceed.