80th Annual Meeting

WHEREAS, it is in the interest of the United States of America, its States, and municipalities to develop 21st Century infrastructure in an expedient, cost effective, resourceful manner to create jobs and increase economic competitiveness;

WHEREAS, in 2012, bipartisan legislation introduced in both chambers of Congress have proposed elimination of duplicative environmental reviews and other measures to accelerate project delivery, including new policy allowing States to apply to the Secretary of Transportation to use its own environmental laws and regulations in lieu of federal environmental laws and regulations;

WHEREAS, the President has championed initiatives to increase U.S. exports to make America more competitive globally;

WHEREAS, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that 18,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion invested in public infrastructure;

WHEREAS, the economic impact of a nine-year delay to a $300 million construction project is the loss of 3,050 jobs and $92 million in GDP, according to a 2011 report by the Orange County Transportation Authority;

WHEREAS, states with heavily traveled goods-movement corridors, ports, airports, and border crossings urgently require assistance to streamline project reviews to achieve national trade economic growth objectives;

WHEREAS prompt, streamlined project delivery in states with heavily traveled goods-movement corridors positively affects other transportation and infrastructure projects through the nation;

WHEREAS, limited public dollars for infrastructure increase the importance of finding efficiencies in the delivery of projects;

WHEREAS, the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is designed to ensure a thorough, rigorous and public process to assess adverse environmental effects of a project;

WHEREAS, some states have adopted environmental laws equal to or exceeding the rigorous federal NEPA requirements in protecting the environment, providing for public review, and mitigating impacts;

WHEREAS, in States with environmental laws equal to or exceeding the federal NEPA requirements many projects must still undergo review under NEPA in addition to state environmental laws, creating duplicative reviews that are costly in time and public resources;

WHEREAS, long, duplicative environmental reviews are fiscally and environmentally irresponsible due to the time it takes to get a transit or highway project approved and implemented;

WHEREAS, increased project costs due to inefficient, duplicative review and oversight of environmental laws means fewer funds available to meet transportation mobility needs and leads to a reduction in the potential for job creation from infrastructure investments;

WHEREAS, the independent, bipartisan National Surface Transportation Policy & Revenue Study Commission (Section 1909 Commission) cites that major highway projects take approximately 13 years from initiation to completion, while the average Federal Transit Administration New Starts transit project takes 10 + years to complete;

WHEREAS, according to the Section 1909 Commission, significant delays to project delivery can increase the costs of projects by up to 7% annually;

WHEREAS, the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program was created by SAFETEA-LU in 2005, which allowed five states to accept the role of the federal government in ensuring projects meet NEPA requirements;

WHEREAS, this streamlining program has been a positive step towards accelerating project delivery in the one state where it has been implemented;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon Congress to allow states the opportunity to substitute their environmental laws for federal environmental laws where state laws are substantially equivalent to or exceed federal environmental laws, for the purposes of eliminating costly and duplicative reviews.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors believes that environmental stewardship and job creation can be simultaneously achieved by removing duplication of environmental review documents while ensuring appropriate oversight of State and federal environmental laws which will protect the environment and the taxpaying public.