Washington (April 10, 2018) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fully supports the administration’s One Federal Decision Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed Monday by numerous secretaries of federal agencies, including the Department of the Army.
President Donald J. Trump established the policy of One Federal Decision for the federal government’s processing of environmental reviews and permits for major infrastructure projects in Executive Order 13807, signed by the president August 15, 2017. Monday’s MOU formalizes the commitment by all the signatory agencies to implement EO 13807’s framework. It ensures the federal processing of environmental reviews and permits for major infrastructure projects is coordinated, predictable and transparent.
Under One Federal Decision, Executive Order 13807 requires each major infrastructure project to have a lead federal agency responsible for navigating the project through the process, all federal agencies to sign one “Record of Decision” (for purposes of complying with the National Environmental Policy Act), and relevant federal agencies to issue the necessary permits for the project within 90 days of the signing of the Record of Decision.
Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper signed the MOU for the Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Esper said, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is committed to meeting the needs of our nation’s project sponsors in the processing of its environmental reviews and permits in a timely, coordinated and concurrent way as called for in the MOU.”
The agencies that signed the One Federal Decision MOU have committed to work together to make the necessary environmental and permitting decisions for major infrastructure projects with a goal to complete the entire process within two years. In general, the MOU commits agencies to process their reviews in accordance with the following four principles:
1) Establish a Lead Federal Agency for the Complete Process. Under the current process, project sponsors are responsible for navigating the decision-making processes of multiple federal agencies. Under the MOU, federal agencies agree to establish one Lead Federal Agency that will navigate the federal environmental review and permitting process.
2) Commitment to Meeting the Lead Federal Agency’s Permitting Timetable. Under the current process, agencies are not generally required to follow a comprehensive permitting timetable. Under the MOU, federal agencies agree to follow the permitting timetables established by the Lead Federal Agency with the goal of completing the process in two years.
3) Commitment to Conduct the Necessary Review Processes Concurrently. Under the current process, agencies may conduct their own environmental review and permitting processes sequentially resulting in unnecessary delay, redundant analysis and revisiting of decisions. Under the MOU, federal agencies agree to conduct their processes at the same time and rely on the analysis prepared by the Lead Federal Agency to the maximum extent possible.
4) Automatic Elevation of Interagency Disputes. Under the current process, interagency disputes sometimes linger for years in agency field offices before being elevated and resolved. Under the MOU, federal agencies agree that interagency disputes will be automatically elevated and expeditiously resolved.
The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Mr. R.D. James, who attended the signing ceremony and is responsible for providing oversight for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program, said, “One of the driving forces behind my interest in accepting this position was a desire to identify and implement opportunities and procedures that will improve the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ ability to work better with other federal agencies to move dirt and get results for the nation. This MOU will help achieve that objective.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been and continues to be part of the federal team assisting the administration in the efforts to develop and implement the infrastructure initiative. USACE is working to streamline processes and procedures in an effort to remove roadblocks which delay the implementation of projects and increase project costs unnecessarily.
Release no. 18-027