Delaware County Engineer Chris Bauserman was in attendance on July 16 for President Donald Trump’s review of his administration’s efforts to reduce federal regulations. Bauserman was one of more than 200 state, local, and tribal officials invited to Washington, D.C. to show their support of the president’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which he reviewed on the South Lawn of the White House.
Bauserman, along with Dean Ringle, executive director of the County Engineers Association of Ohio, attended the review with a delegation of transportation officials from the National Association of County Engineers.
“I am honored to be invited to the White House to support President Trump’s efforts to reduce over-reaching government regulations that slow transportation projects and hamper our economy,” Bauserman said in a press release. “President Trump’s executive order streamlines and limits the cumbersome approval process for federal transportation projects. The new parameters, focused on limiting review time periods and the scope of federal approvals, will allow road and bridge projects to be built faster and cheaper.”
Bauserman later states in the release, “In Delaware County, it’s extremely important that we expedite transportation projects to meet the safety, mobility, and congestion demands of our rapidly growing region, and the president’s efforts to streamline the process is welcome news to motorists in our county and throughout our nation.”
During his speech, Trump said the country achieved “yet another ground-breaking milestone” by completing a sweeping overhaul of America’s “badly-broken infrastructure approval process.”
“It was totally out of control,” Trump told his audience. “Instead of taking up to 20 years to approve a major project, we’re cutting the federal permitting timeline — it’s already been done — to a maximum of two years, and in some cases, even less than one year.”
Bauserman told The Gazette that with so many entities having their say on a project, and most of them operating on their own time frame, often times the project gets “stuck” in the approval process. He said from his own experience, prior to Trump’s passing of NEPA, it wasn’t uncommon for decisions on projects to be rendered in upwards of five years given the regulatory process.
Among other reasons, Bauserman said NEPA will prove to be very beneficial to transportation projects in the county, state, and across the country by reducing the cost of those projects.
“The longer these projects take, the more they cost,” he said.
While Trump’s overhaul will hasten the regulation process, Bauserman felt it important to also note that NEPA won’t reduce the number of regulations of which projects will still be subjected.
“When some people hear about loosening the regulations relating to the environment, they think that’s not a positive thing, and I totally get that,” Bauserman said. “But I think it’s important to emphasize and understand that this doesn’t reduce any of the federal environmental regulations. It simply reduces the amount of time that those agencies have to respond.
“They may still end up telling us no on projects, they may still end up placing environmental mitigation requirements on it, but they have a time frame in which they have to do it. We’ll still be doing all our projects with as much environmental sensitivity and just as safe as we always have,” he added.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.