Colorado is an uncommonly beautiful state with a rapidly growing population, so it illustrates perfectly the importance of balancing development and environmental protection. Done the right way, highway infrastructure projects keep pace with the needs of residents and tourists while also reducing congestion and the related economic loss stemming from traffic, air pollution and safety hazards. Particularly during our current crisis that has put thousands of Coloradans out of work, economic investment in the state’s infrastructure is more important than ever to create jobs and support commerce.
Unfortunately, the outdated permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has delayed countless infrastructure projects. In almost 50 years of existence, NEPA has not been updated to keep up with an increasingly litigated environmental approval process, which has commonly delayed projects for an average of six years and cost $4.2 million before a single shovel is put into the ground. Even before this year’s challenges, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a D+ because of the crumbling state of our nation’s highways, bridges, and tunnels. We cannot afford to continue to work with this archaic approval process.