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      Civil Engineers Respond to Presidential Executive Order on Permitting

      August 16, 2017

      The following is a statement from American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) President Norma Jean Mattei, P.E., Ph.D., on President Trump's Executive Order on permitting signed Tuesday, Aug. 15:

      "ASCE's 2017 Infrastructure Report Card graded the nation's infrastructure a 'D+.' One of ASCE's suggestions to raise the grades is to streamline the project permitting process across infrastructure sectors, with safeguards to protect the natural environment, to provide greater clarity to regulatory requirements, bring priority projects to reality more quickly, and secure cost savings. While today's Executive Order streamlines the decision-making process to expedite investments, it is not clear that these changes will protect the environment and improve public safety.

      "For decades, ASCE has advocated for public policies that reduce risk and hold paramount public safety and welfare. Given our responsibility to ensure the public remains safe and that infrastructure is designed to maximize the public interest, including cost considerations, we are concerned that the order repeals the Federal Floodplain Risk Management Standard (FFRMS). More than half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast and there has been continued development in flood plains, making FFRMS more important now than ever.

      "ASCE supports the federal government's efforts to mitigate risk and require pre-disaster mitigation. The U.S. has sustained 196 weather and climate related events where damages exceeded $1 billion, and between 1980 and 2013, the nation experienced more than $260 billion in flood-related damages. The FFRMS takes a fiscally responsible, common sense approach of considering and mitigating flood disaster risks for federally funded development in flood prone areas.

      "While a streamlined permitting process can help to address our nation's significant infrastructure needs, it must be a balanced approach that protects the health, safety, and welfare of the public and the environment in which Americans live. Furthermore, our poor infrastructure ultimately will only be improved by a renewed Federal commitment to increased investment. It is time for Congress and the President to work together to put forth a package that increases investment that will provide substantial, long-term benefits to the public and the economy."