June 09, 2017 Remarks by President Trump on Regulatory Relief, Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.
We are here today to focus on solving one of the biggest obstacles to creating this new and desperately needed infrastructure, and that is the painfully slow, costly, and time-consuming process of getting permits and approvals to build. And I also knew that from the private sector. It is a long, slow, unnecessarily burdensome process.
My administration is committed to ending these terrible delays once and for all. The excruciating wait time for permitting has inflicted enormous financial pain to cities and states all throughout our nation and has blocked many important projects from ever getting off the ground. Many, many projects are long gone because they couldn’t get permits and there was no reason for it.
We’ve already taken historic steps to speed up the approvals, including the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline -- which was very quickly approved. They were sitting there for a long time saying, well, that project is dead. Then I came into office and, all of the sudden, a miracle. And I guarantee you, the consultants went over to the heads of the company and told them what a great job they did. They asked for a lot of money, most likely. But we got it approved. And we got it approved fast.
I’m also very proud to say that the Dakota Access Pipeline is now officially open for business. It was dead 120 days ago, and now it officially just opened for business. Very proud of that. Hi, Bill.
We have structurally deficient bridges, clogged roads, crumbling dams and locks. Our rivers are in trouble. Our railways are aging. And chronic traffic that slows commerce and diminishes our citizens' quality of life. Other than that, we’re doing very well.
Instead of rebuilding our country, Washington has spent decades building a dense thicket of rules, regulations and red tape. It took only four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge and five years to build the Hoover Dam and less than one year to build the Empire State Building. People don’t believe that. It took less than one year. But today, it can take 10 years and far more than that just to get the approvals and permits needed to build a major infrastructure project.
These charts beside me are actually a simplified version of our highway permitting process. It includes 16 different approvals involving 10 different federal agencies being governed by 26 different statutes.
As one example -- and this happened just 30 minutes ago -- I was sitting with a great group of people responsible for their state’s economic development and roadways. All of you are in the room now. And one gentleman from Maryland was talking about an 18-mile road. And he brought with him some of the approvals that they’ve gotten and paid for. They spent $29 million for an environmental report, weighing 70 pounds and costing $24,000 per page.
And I said, do me a favor. I’m going to make a speech in a little while. Do you mind if I take that and show it? So I’m going to show it. So they spent millions and millions of dollars. When I said, how long has this short roadway been talked about, the gentleman said, well, if you say 20 years, you’re safe.
But these binders on the stage could be replaced by just a few simple pages, and it would be just as good. It was actually be much better. Because these binders also make you do unnecessary things that cost billions and billions of dollars and they actually make it worse.
As another example, the 23 -- if you look at it, in Ohio, the Ohio River Bridge -- $2.3 billion. The project amassed a 150,000-page administrative record -- 150,000 pages is a five-story-tall building. Think of it. If you put the paper together, it’s a five-story building.
How can a country prosper under this kind of nonsense? And I know it. I know it so well, being in the private sector. But you know, in the private sector you move, and you wheel, and you deal, and you hope, and you pray. And maybe it goes a little faster, but it’s a horrible thing in the private sector also. And we’re talking about reducing that for the private sector likewise.
Why should we continue to accept what is so clearly unacceptable? Oftentimes, the consultants -- that are making a fortune because you can’t doing anything without hiring them, paying them a tremendous amount of money, having them write up this nonsense -- you can’t get approvals. And they’re in, in the case of New York, Albany -- they go to Albany, the state capital or, here, they go to Washington for federal. And they want to make it really tough because that way, you have to hire them. It's a terrible thing. It's a group of people -- probably nobody has ever heard anybody talk about it because -- I know it because I'm a business guy, I understand that. They work really hard to make it difficult. And some are believers, but most aren't. Most want to make a lot of money. So they make a very, very simple roadway or whatever you want to be building a very complicated subject, and they make it very much more expensive and they make it worse. It's not as good as it would have been.
No longer can we allow these rules and regulations to tie down our economy, chain up our prosperity, and sap our great American spirit. That is why we will lift these restrictions and unleash the full potential of the United States of America.
To all our state and local leaders, I appreciate you being here today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Bill. I want you to know that help is finally -- after many, many decades -- on its way. We are giving control back to the cities and the states. You know best how to plan your communities, analyze your projects, and protect your local environment.
We will get rid of the redundancy and duplication that wastes your time and your money. Our goal is to give you one point of contact to deliver one decision -- yes or no -- for the entire federal government, and to deliver that decision quickly, whether it's a road, whether it's a highway, a bridge, a dam.
To do this, we are setting up a new council to help project managers navigate the bureaucratic maze. This council will also improve transparency by creating a new online dashboard allowing everyone to easily track major projects through every stage of the approval process. This council will make sure that every federal agency that is consistently delaying projects by missing deadlines will face tough, new penalties. I know it won't happen with these two. We don't have to worry about them. We will hold the bureaucracy accountable.
We are also creating a new office in the Council of Environmental Quality to root out inefficiency, clarify lines of authority, and streamline federal and state and local procedures so that communities can modernize their aging infrastructure without fear of outdated federal rules getting in their way.
This massive permit reform -- and that's what it is; it's a permit reform -- doesn’t sound glamorous. They won't write stories about it. They won't even talk about it. But it's so important. But it's only the first step in renewing America’s roads, rails, runways and rivers.
I wrote on the approval topics before, in this post:
Excessive industrial regulatory approvals - economic weapon of mass-destruction!