ARTBA Outlines Vital Improvements for Wetlands Permitting

Fri February 03, 2012 - National Edition

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) that the best way to reduce unnecessary regulatory red-tape on transportation projects is to improve the wetlands permitting process. ARTBA submitted comments to the Corps Jan. 17 in response to a government-wide regulatory review initiated by President Obama in 2011, detailing specific recommendations to make wetlands permitting more efficient.

ARTBA has long championed efforts to reduce unnecessary delays in the transportation review and approval process. Currently, it can take anywhere from nine to 19 years for a project to go from planning to completion.

Stressing the need to make the wetlands permitting process less complicated, without sacrificing environmental protections, ARTBA called on the Corps to:

• Place strict time limits on permitting decisions — allowing planners to know exactly when a decision would be reached on a project and plan accordingly;

• Require no permits when projects do not have an ecological effect on wetlands — in the spirit of President Obama’s executive order, regulations should not be mandated when there is no practical need; and

• Eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from permitting decisions altogether — both Congress and the courts have given the Corps the sole responsibility for wetlands permitting; two agencies should not be doing a job that can be done by one.

ARTBA’s recent comments represent the fourth agency-wide regulatory review the association has participated in since early 2011. The association also offered detailed comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, EPA, and Small Business Administration.

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