WASHINGTON — Today, presidential appointee Christine Harada begins her tenure as the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council)'s Executive Director. Harada was most recently the Vice President for Government Affairs at Heliogen, a California-based renewable energy technology company.
As Executive Director, Harada will manage a portfolio of nearly $60 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects—most of which are renewable energy, coastal restoration, and electricity transmission. Fifty percent represent half of the White House's goal for offshore wind by 2030. She will lead 13 federal agencies, state agencies, and project sponsors to develop and implement project-specific timetables for all required reviews and authorizations, in line with the administration's Build Back Better agenda to rebuild the economy and the country's infrastructure.
"Hopefully, the American Jobs Plan will pass, and we'll see a once-in-a-lifetime investment in infrastructure," said Harada. "My priority is to work with our federal and state partners and project sponsors to enhance coordination between all parties to create transparent, statutorily mandated permitting timetables and concurrent environmental authorizations that decrease timeline and cost risks for project sponsors."
Harada brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in public and private sectors to the role. Previously, she served as the President of i(x) investments; a company focused on impact-driven investments in critical areas such as renewable energy, green real estate development, and accessible smart, sustainable housing. She was a Partner with Ridge-Lane Limited Partners, an advisory firm of experts in private-sector innovation, investment capital, and government policy that works with companies interested in social and environmental impact, along with financial performance.
"As the Congress moves closer to passing a historic investment in our nation's infrastructure, it is essential that the federal permitting process move as efficiently as possible so that communities across the country see the benefit of jobs, equitable investments, and improved infrastructure," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trottenberg. "The appointment of Christine Harada to lead the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council shows the president's commitment to improving the federal permitting process so that we can build back better."
As the former White House Federal Chief Sustainability Officer under President Barack Obama, Harada oversaw all federal sustainability-related initiatives in energy, vehicle fleets, and acquisitions. She also served as the Acting Chief of Staff and the Associate Administrator of Government-wide Policy and Chief Acquisition Officer at the U.S. General Services Administration.
Harada has worked as a Senior Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin and as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and Booz Allen Hamilton. She holds a master's degree in international studies from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and an MBA in finance from the Wharton School at Penn. Additionally, she has a master's degree from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in aeronautics and astronautics.
The Permitting Council is an independent government agency that provides high-level oversight for critical infrastructure projects by implementing the statutory requirements under Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41). FAST-41 provides an interagency mechanism to coordinate the implementation of multiple permitting statutes by, among other methods, providing for a single unified schedule posted publicly on the Permitting Dashboard. Project sponsors can apply for FAST-41 coverage for qualifying, large-scale infrastructure projects. FAST-41 does not modify any underlying Federal statute, regulations, or mandatory reviews.