A new presidential executive order directs federal government agencies to take whatever actions necessary, including waiving environmental regulations, to streamline and expedite infrastructure projects to hasten the economic recovery in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order, “Executive Order on Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investments and Other Activities,” began by stating that, “The 2019 novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing outbreaks of the disease COVID-19, has significantly disrupted the lives of Americans.”
It added that, without interventions such as this executive order to get construction projects back on track, the nation faces “the likelihood of a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistent high unemployment.”
Further on, the executive order noted that, “Antiquated regulations and bureaucratic practices have hindered American infrastructure investments, kept America’s building trades workers from working, and prevented our citizens from developing and enjoying the benefits of world-class infrastructure.”
It added that, in addition to past executive efforts to streamline regulations, the need for continued progress in this streamlining effort is all the more acute now, due to the ongoing economic crisis.
In its policy statement, the executive order noted, “Agencies, including executive departments, should take all appropriate steps to use their lawful emergency authorities and other authorities to respond to the national emergency and to facilitate the Nation’s economic recovery. As set forth in this order, agencies should take all reasonable measures to speed infrastructure investments and to speed other actions in addition to such investments that will strengthen the economy and return Americans to work, while providing appropriate protection for public health and safety, natural resources, and the environment, as required by law.”
The executive order covers directives related to: expediting the delivery of transportation infrastructure projects, expediting the delivery of civil works projects within the purview of the Army Corps of Engineers, expediting the delivery of infrastructure and other projects on federal lands and many others.