R36 Combine Coach wrote:
If anything, it seems EIS/NEPA is holding more up than anything else now.
Not to single out you, R36, but this is a really important misconception to combat. NEPA's ask of public projects is actually really light -- IIRC the recommended maximum
length of an EIS is on the order of 300 pages -- it's actually the weaponization of the law by various special interest groups (generally NIMBY types) that's made it so damaging. This damage has manifested in two ways: in that the findings of an EIS (which, by the way, are not binding) have been used in lawsuits alleging the proposing body is violating such-and-such regulation, which lengthens project timeline insofar as the lawsuit is successful at slowing/stopping/cancelling work, and in that, in attempts to head off opposition, planners attempt to deny opportunities for opposition (or for allegations of incompletion or inattentiveness) by writing unnecessarily exhaustive EISs, which lengthens project duration in its own right.
This is all to say that I think there's a lot more to our public works issue than just environmental regs. Pretty much all of Europe has built out transportation networks that outstrip ours by orders of magnitude, and yet their environmental policies are much stronger. To be sure, there's a unique myopia that pervades some corners of American environmental regulation (see, for example, New York's latest quest to stringently limit emissions from buildings when the consequent further discouragement of new construction in NYC is sure only to promote sprawl), but the imperatives of environmental stewardship are indeed imperatives -- as the line goes, we only have one planet. But regardless, it seems that a lot of seemingly environmental opposition to major projects these days comes not so much from the proverbial 'greenies' but from, well, NIMBYs.