Dec 04, 2015 - 2:00pm

How the Highway Bill Will Help Make It Easier to Build Things in America


Senior Editor, Digital Content

Congress helped make it easier to cut through regulatory red tape that adds years of delays to needed projects. The transportation bill passed by Congress and expected to be signed by President Barack Obama contains a permit streamlining reform provision.

This will streamline permitting for a variety of projects costing more than $200 million:

[C]onstruction of infrastructure for renewable or conventional energy production, electricity transmission, surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource projects, broadband, pipelines, manufacturing….

The bill creates a council, made up of over a dozen federal departments and agencies, that will catalog projects that need federal permits, publish them on an online permitting dashboard, put a lead agency in charge of coordinating federal and non-federal agency reviews, set deadlines, and establish best practices to ensure timely review and public input.

The U.S. Chamber has been pushing for years for improving the permitting process to create a “swift but safe” system that allows important projects to be built.

Despite this win, more needs to be done to improve the permitting process. There’s a provision in an energy bill that would streamline permitting for oil and natural gas pipelines to prevent future Keystone XL-type quagmires. While the bill passed the House of Representatives, a Senate version isn’t expected until 2016--and the White House has threatened to veto it.

If we get our rules right, we can make it easier to responsibly build big things in America.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.