Surface Transportation Infrastructure Projects: Case Studies of the Federal Environmental Review and Permitting Process

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

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0 Tuesday, September 09, 2014 @ 10:00 | Contact: Jim Billimoria 202-225-9446

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Summary of Subject Matter
Official Hearing Transcript

Witness List:

  • The Honorable Carlos Braceras, Executive Director, Utah Department of Transportation | Written Testimony
  • The Honorable Lynn Peterson, Secretary, Washington State Department of Transportation | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Carlos Swonke, Director, Environmental Affairs Division, Texas Department of Transportation | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Michael Kraman, Acting Chief Executive Officer, The Transportation Corridor Agencies | Written Testimony
  • Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI)
    Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
    Hearing on “Surface Transportation Infrastructure Projects: Case Studies of the Federal Environmental Review and Permitting Process”

    September 9, 2014
    Opening Statement
    (Remarks as Prepared)

    We spent the summer working on the surface transportation reauthorization bill and the Highway Trust Fund Act, which provides funding certainty and extends MAP-21 through the end of next May.  However, as we continue working on the surface transportation reauthorization bill, it is important that we hear from practitioners and project sponsors in order to gain their wisdom and insight.

    Today's hearing focuses on the federal environmental review and permitting process for transportation projects.  As project sponsors deliver federal surface transportation projects, they must meet complex requirements at the federal and state levels during every stage of the process.

    The environmental review and permitting processes are major components of project delivery.  At the federal level, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, or NEPA, provides a framework for environmental planning and decision-making.  NEPA requires the consideration of potential impacts of a project on the social and natural environment, and, if necessary, includes steps to limit or mitigate those impacts.  NEPA also identifies any federal environmental permits that the project must secure in order to proceed.  While a necessary and important part of the project delivery process, environmental review and permitting may involve significant time, money, and staff resources, especially for complex projects.

    MAP-21 made significant reforms to the project delivery process, which maintained our strong environmental protections while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the process.  I know that many of our witnesses today plan to discuss these reforms and how they have benefited from them.

    Yet the complexity of this issue necessitates our continued examination of the environmental review and permitting process.  As the Committee continues its work on drafting the next surface transportation reauthorization bill, we want to consider how the process is working well and what ways it can work better.  We have an excellent panel of witnesses before us, today.  I am confident that they will be able to help us understand this important issue by discussing how the process has worked for specific projects in their states.

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