Over the past few years, President Trump has issued a number of presidential directives to ensure that each federal agency, including Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is evaluating and reducing existing regulatory burdens imposed on industry and not promulgating future costly mandates. The following includes highlights from these initiatives.
President’s Deregulatory Initiatives:
In early 2017, the President issued guidance requiring all federal agencies to repeal two regulations for every new regulation proposed. The President also ordered that the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, should be no greater than zero, unless otherwise required by law or by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The President signed another executive order establishing a Regulatory Reform Task Force (RRTF) at each federal agency.
In December 2019, DOT issued a formal rule codifying a series of regulatory reforms, including the Administration’s policies on regulatory budgeting, the “2-for-1” plan, and the RRTF. The rule establishes additional procedures for the issuance of the Department’s most costly rules, including enhanced opportunities for public participation, and clarifies that DOT guidance does not impose any legal obligations and shall not be used for enforcement. According to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, DOT has saved the U.S. economy a total of $3.68 billion in regulatory costs as of December 2019.
Streamlining Environmental Reviews:
President Trump has directed federal agencies to streamline federal environmental reviews and permitting approvals for infrastructure development, including improving coordination between reviewing agencies and establishing a two-year goal for processing environmental documents on major projects. In August 2019, DOT issued an interim policy outlining how the Department will implement the “One Federal Decision” (OFD) framework. The OFD framework, established by President Trump in August 2017, is designed to ensure a timelier and more coordinated environmental review and permitting process while stimulating investment and improvements in infrastructure. AAAE also continues to urge the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to issue its proposed rule to introduce more accountability, timelines, and transparency into the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process. The proposal is expected to be released in early 2020
Agency Guidance Review:
The Administration focused its attention on agency guidance in 2019. In February, the DOT solicited feedback from the public on all existing DOT and FAA guidance to determine if there were good candidates for repeal or revision. In April, the White House directed a memorandum to all federal agencies, clarifying that any guidance documents must be subjected to a benefit-cost analysis and sent to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a sub-agency within the Executive Office of the President, prior to being released to the public. In October, President Trump signed an executive order that would require each agency, including DOT and FAA, to allow for a period of public notice and comment of at least 30 days before issuance of a final guidance document and provide a public response to “major concerns” raised in the comments. These changes are expected to bring increased scrutiny to DOT and FAA advisory materials that seek to impose new requirements on airports by circumventing the formal notice-and-comment rulemaking process.
AAAE has been urging the DOT and FAA to adopt common-sense regulatory reform for airports. AAAE worked diligently in coordination with ACI-NA to develop and release a joint airport regulatory reform priority list which included proposed changes in the areas of non-aeronautical land development, non-airfield facilities, airport business practices, NEPA reviews, passenger facility charges (PFC), and the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). In August 2018, AAAE provided the CEQ with recommendations on improving accountability, timelines, and transparency in the NEPA review process.