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President Donald Trump moves to streamline infrastructure permits

President Donald Trump shows a flowchart he said

President Donald Trump shows a flowchart he said illustrated the current permitting process during a news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Jim Watson

President Donald Trump announced he had signed an executive order on Tuesday aimed at easing the permitting process for major infrastructure projects.

Trump announced his administration’s new permitting plans in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan. He was joined by key members of his cabinet, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

“I just signed an executive order to dramatically reform the nation’s badly broken infrastructure permitting process,” Trump said.

The address was his first appearance since arriving back in his hometown Monday evening to mass protests surrounding his namesake tower.

Trump said the Empire State Building took 11 months to build but lamented “today it could take as long as a decade” because of a lengthy permitting process.

“Our infrastructure will again be the best,” Trump said, noting that the current infrastructure was comparable to that of “a Third World country.”

Under Trump’s executive order, major infrastructure projects would require only “one federal decision” for permitting approval, rather than meeting the requirements set by multiple federal agencies.

The order also sets a “two-year goal for completion of the permitting process” and looks to boost “accountability for federal agencies involved in the permitting process,” according to White House officials.

Trump, a longtime real estate developer, has frequently complained that new infrastructure projects have been slow to launch because of the “painfully slow, costly and time-consuming process for getting permits and approvals to build.”

Critics have said Trump is trying to weaken environmental protections.

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