Newsletter: Streamlining Red Tape

(Jan 15, 2020) Last week, President Trump proposed rule changes to streamline the environmental permitting process, adopting key elements of Common Good’s proposals. Putting reasonable time limits on permitting is clearly in the public interest, and we will also suggest changes in the formal comment period. But the public discussion has already become polarized, with environmentalists assuming that the reforms will result in environmental harm.

Delay itself causes environmental harm. Environmental review was never intended to take, on average, five or more years. Reducing permitting times will generally have pro-environmental effects, and put America more in line with greener countries like Canada and Germany. Streamlined review would:

  • By cutting red tape costs, release resources for additional vital infrastructure projects; and
  • Alleviate the environmental harm of bottlenecks, leakages and other inefficiencies, and enable faster adoption of green technologies.

While lengthy environmental review can be a weapon to stop bad projects, it also discourages good projects. The point of environmental review is to permit informed public decisions – not to provide a veto.

Writing about the Administration’s proposal, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal discusses the harms caused by excessive delay, citing our “Two Years, Not Ten Years” study.

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