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Biden-Harris Administration Announces Historic Investments to Increase Tribal Engagement and Improve Infrastructure Permitting Reviews

The Permitting Council is leveraging Inflation Reduction Act funding to equip Tribes with critically needed resources to make the permitting review process more efficient. 

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Permitting Council Press Office (

WASHINGTON (May 7, 2024) – Today, the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council) announced its first Environmental Review Improvement Fund Tribal Assistance Program (ERIF-TAP) awards of over $1.3 million to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. The Permitting Council recently launched this financial assistance program in response to requests from Tribes for resources to help them meet increased permitting demand and to meaningfully engage in the environmental review process. 

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will receive $690,000 and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community will receive $632,500 from the ERIF-TAP. Both Tribes will use these funds to support engagement and consultation for a number of offshore wind projects on the Eastern seaboard that may affect Tribal interests. 

“Increasing Tribal capacity in the environmental review process is essential to ensuring we can quickly build thoughtful infrastructure in this country,” said Eric Beightel, Permitting Council Executive Director. “When Tribes have the tools that they need to engage in the environmental review of projects where Tribal interests may be affected, everyone wins because we can protect cultural resources, mitigate environmental impacts, and make sure that critical infrastructure projects are completed swiftly without undue delays.”

These funds are enabled by the Permitting Council’s $350 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). ERIF-TAP investments will play a significant role in supporting Tribal engagement during the federal environmental review and authorization process. With these resources, reviews and authorizations can be completed more efficiently, helping to meet the Biden-Harris Administration’s infrastructure and clean energy goals. ERIF-TAP funding applications are currently open to Tribal governments engaged in the environmental review and authorization process for FAST-41 covered projects, with applications reviewed on a rolling basis. The Permitting Council encourages interested Tribes to review requirements, reach out to staff, and submit applications through the Permitting Council website.

“The Permitting Council’s funding award is much appreciated and will be put to immediate use by Stockbridge-Munsee Community to engage in more efficient and meaningful cultural resource consultation on the covered FAST-41 projects,” said Dr. Jeff Bendremer, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Stockbridge Munsee Community. “With this support, we can dedicate staff time and technical resources to meet our interests in these projects. We’re pleased to be among the first Tribes to benefit from this opportunity.” 

"Tribes have struggled to effectively keep pace with the demanding permitting schedules in our efforts to preserve and protect our culturally significant, sacred sites and responsibly assess potential adverse environmental effects,” said Councilman David Weeden, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. “The ERIF-TAP awards will provide vital support in these endeavors. This equitable funding mechanism is unprecedented and was done with an exemplary level of Tribal input. This collaborative approach has set a new standard for how federal agencies address the needs of Tribal Nations. We are proud to be part of this historic funding as an initial Tribe to receive an ERIF-TAP award and look forward to the positive impact it will have on our community's interests and concerns."

The Permitting Council is leveraging a partnership with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to use the BIA’s Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (P.L. 93-638) Self Governance and Self Determination mechanisms to distribute funding to Tribes in a way that respects Tribal sovereignty and reduces administrative burden.

"These awards are a continuation of our all-of-government approach to protecting and supporting Tribal sovereignty and self-determination,” said Bryan Newland, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior. “Tribal engagement in the environmental review and permitting process allows for Tribes to have input in decisions that will affect their lands and waters, as well as provides opportunities for Indigenous Knowledge to contribute to the well-being of the United States and to the collective understanding of the natural world.”

Learn more about the Permitting Council’s Environmental Review Improvement Fund Tribal Assistance Program at

About the Permitting Council and FAST-41 

Established in 2015 by Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41) and made permanent in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Permitting Council is a unique federal agency charged with improving the transparency and predictability of the federal environmental review and authorization process for certain critical infrastructure projects. The Permitting Council is comprised of the Permitting Council Executive Director, who serves as the Council Chair; 13 federal agency Council members (including deputy secretary-level designees of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Army, Commerce, Interior, Energy, Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, and Housing and Urban Development, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chairs of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation); and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The Permitting Council coordinates federal environmental reviews and authorizations for projects that seek and qualify for FAST-41 coverage. FAST-41 covered projects are entitled to comprehensive permitting timetables and transparent, collaborative management of those timetables on the Federal Permitting Dashboard. FAST-41 covered projects may be in the renewable or conventional energy production, electricity transmission, energy storage, surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource, broadband, pipelines, manufacturing, mining, carbon capture, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, high-performance computing and advanced computer hardware and software, quantum information science and technology, data storage and data management, and cybersecurity sectors.

Last updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2024