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February 24, 2020 7:00 PM, EST

Freight Stakeholders Advocate for Modernizing NEPA

Stakeholders meet at the U.S. Chamber of CommerceStakeholders meet at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Feb. 24. (Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics)

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s effort to update long-standing federal environmental permitting guidelines received a resounding endorsement on Feb. 24 from a group of business and freight stakeholders.

Participants of the “Unlock American Investment” coalition, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, met at the chamber’s headquarters to highlight their goal for modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Modernizing NEPA would benefit the environment by accelerating projects that improve the efficiency of our transportation and distribution systems,” Tom Donohue, the chamber’s CEO, told reporters. The coalition includes the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the National Association of Realtors and American Trucking Associations.

“The NEPA permitting process needs to be efficient,” said James Burg, president and CEO of James Burg Trucking Co., and a board member of ATA. “We need to improve, and I’ll say restore, transportation efficiency in this nation.”

James Burg

Burg

In January, Council on Environmental Quality officials proposed a rulemaking aimed at updating NEPA to incorporate a one-federal-decision approach to permitting. According to a notice archived in the Federal Register, the administration explained it looks to “modernize and clarify the regulations to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews by federal agencies in connection with proposals for agency action.”

The agency scheduled two public hearings for this month. The proposal’s comment period deadline is March 10.

On Capitol Hill, a streamlining of permitting regulations is endorsed by several senior Republicans. Top Democrats insist on providing additional time for the public to share input about NEPA.

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