US President Donald Trump has announced new plans to accelerate the speed at which major infrastructure projects are approved and developed.
Changes to National Environmental Policy Act rules, which currently require federal agencies to assess the environmental impact of projects such as the construction of mines, motorways, water pipes and gas lines, would speed up approval by setting time limits on environmental assessments and adjusting what impacts must be considered in the process.
Critics of the plans say the changes would have the effect of relaxing efforts to fight the climate crisis and could result in more environmentally-unfriendly infrastructure being built.
President Trump said: “In the past, many America’s — of America’s most critical infrastructure projects have been tied up and bogged down by an outrageously slow and burdensome federal approval process. And I’ve been talking about it for a long time — where it takes many, many years to get something built — get something built — done in any way. The builders are not happy. Nobody is happy. It takes 20 years. It takes 30 years. It takes numbers that nobody would even believe.
“These endless delays waste money, keep projects from breaking ground, and deny jobs to our nation’s incredible workers.”
At the end of last year, the US began the process of withdrawing from the Paris climate change agreement.