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A federal register notice posted by the U.S. Department of Transportation on August 23 seeks public comment on two “interim” policies: one to limit environmental impact statements to a maximum of 150 pages – with a recommendation that they “not exceed” 75 pages – and the other to coordinate those federal reviews under the “One Federal Decision” executive order with a goal of completing them within two years.

[Above photo by the Florida DOT.]

“USDOT finds it necessary to issue this interim policy because lengthy NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] documents, containing extraneous detail and needless data, have resulted in increases in both time and cost to complete the environmental review process,” the agency said in its federal register notice.

Photo of USDOT HQ by Beyond DC

“It has made it increasingly difficult for agency decision-makers and the public to find the relevant information regarding proposed actions,” it added. “Setting appropriate page limits is recognized as a mechanism to reduce excessive paperwork and ensure that NEPA documentation is clear, concise, and focused.”

Along similar lines, USDOT officially issued a 131-page final rule in November last year to amend Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration regulations regarding the implementation of NEPA requirements along with other environmental protocols; steps the agency believes will accelerate transportation project delivery times.

The second interim policy deals with the application of the One Federal Decision process to transportation projects, incorporating guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget as well as the Council on Environmental Quality. Those processes are outlined in a 22-page memo issued by Loren Smith, deputy assistant secretary for transportation policy.

editor@aashto.org

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