DOT Solicits Input on Regulatory Reform and Infrastructure Projects
On June 9, 2017, Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), appearing alongside President Donald J. Trump, announced a public request to identify DOT requirements which “unjustifiably delay or prevent completion of surface, maritime, and aviation transportation infrastructure projects.” This announcement follows the DOT’s publication of a notice in the Federal Register soliciting input from the public and stakeholders in identifying burdensome DOT regulations. Secretary Chao explained: “If you have any ideas, we want to hear from you!”
The DOT is primarily seeking commentary on regulations which are within its authority to change, and would not require legislative action; however, if all non-statutory alternatives have been exhausted, commenters may submit legislative solutions. Comments can relate to any DOT requirement issued from the DOT’s Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Maritime Administration (MARAD), or the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The deadline for submitting a comment is July 24, 2017. All comments will be available for public view in the docket available here.
The DOT requests that all comments contain the following elements:
Specific reference to the regulation the applicant considers burdensome;
Description of how it impedes efficient project delivery;
Description of less burdensome alternatives (or, if applicable, an explanation of why the applicant feels that there are no alternatives); and
Examples of projects that have been or will be impeded by the regulation.
As part of the infrastructure rollout with the president, Secretary Chao also announced that a special task force at the DOT had already begun to streamline regulations. The DOT established the Regulatory Reform Task Force (RRTF) in order to comply with a requirement of President Trump’s Executive Order 13777, Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda. Jeff Rosen, DOT Deputy Secretary, who serves as the DOT’s designated Regulatory Reform Officer and heads the RRTF, characterized the DOT’s call for input as part of “a greater focus by the Administration to remain responsive to the needs of the public and industry, rather than pushing a ‘top down, government knows best’ approach to regulation.”
These developments are part of President Trump’s greater regulatory reform agenda, which the Administration is implementing through a series of executive orders, supported by guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and his proposed budget to Congress. The cornerstone of this effort is Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulations and Controlling Regulatory Costs, which requires that “for every one new regulations that an agency intends to promulgate, the agency must also identify two other regulations for elimination.” With regard to transportation, President Trump has called for a 13% reduction of the DOT’s budget and for reform of the nation’s air traffic control system, shifting responsibility from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a new non-governmental entity.
The Wicks Group has extensive experience with federal regulations and infrastructure projects involving public-private partnership such as projects under the FAA’s airport privatization pilot program. In addition, the Yale Journal of Regulation, the nation’s top-ranked law journal on administrative law, will be publishing an article authored by TWG Partner Roncevert (Ronce) Almond, along with associates Marina O’Brien and Andrew Orr, analyzing President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda. For more information concerning the DOT’s regulatory reform request process and the firm’s regulatory practice, please contact Ronce Almond (firstname.lastname@example.org).