Common Good Chair Philip Howard testified on Thursday, September 6, at a Congressional hearing on infrastructure reform. The hearing – titled “Permitting: Finding a Path Forward” – was held jointly by two subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: the Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs and the Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment.
In his testimony, Howard stated that environmental review and regulatory tradeoffs require giving officials authority to make the value judgments for sensible decisions. Without these judgments, the permitting process can take years, sometimes more than a decade. In order to focus environmental review on material issues, someone must have the authority to decide on the level of detail that’s needed.
The White House cannot solve the problem by executive orders alone, he noted. What’s needed is for Congress to pass legislation that clarifies lines of authority. Common Good has proposed three pages of legislation to accomplish that.