By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory affairs & assistant general counsel, ARTBA

ARTBA is supporting an agreement between the Federal Highway Administration and Alaska officials that allows the state to assume responsibility for administering categorical exclusions (CEs) during the environmental review and approval process.

CEs are the least burdensome form of environmental review and reserved for projects with minimal impact on surroundings.  Using CEs generally shaves years, even up to a decade, off project approval times compared to more burdensome forms of review, such as environmental impact statements. Provisions allowing states to assume responsibility for CEs are contained in the last two surface transportation program reauthorization laws.

Having states administer CEs also will further increase efficiency by lessening the burdens on federal agencies.  ARTBA is hopeful Alaska’s efforts will encourage other states to take advantage of these opportunities to delegate federal environmental reviews.

Read ARTBA’s Sept. 2 comments.