Funded through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, the Environmental Review Improvement Fund Tribal Assistance Program will infuse critically needed funding into Tribal Participation in the Federal Review Process
Permitting Council Press Office (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WASHINGTON (November 2, 2023) – Today, the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council) opened applications for the Environmental Review Improvement Fund Tribal Assistance Program (ERIF TAP). The program, which is funded through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda –a key pillar of Bidenomics – provides funds to support Tribal engagement in the environmental review and authorization process for FAST-41 covered projects. FAST-41, which is designed to enhance transparency and increase the efficiency of the permitting process, currently has nearly $100 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects under its purview—including those in the renewable energy, coastal restoration, broadband, and electricity transmission sectors. The Permitting Council is leveraging funds from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act - the largest climate investment in history - to make an initial $5 million available under the ERIF TAP.
Recognizing the unfair burden and capacity issues many Tribal Nations face when engaging in the Federal permitting process, the Permitting Council Executive Director directed these funds for Tribal assistance after the agency received funding in the Inflation Reduction Act. Eligible Tribes can use these funds to access critically needed resources to help fulfill their permitting review responsibilities, ensuring a more meaningful and effective seat at the table during the environmental review process. Funds can be used toward technical training, survey equipment, reimbursing cultural experts, staffing and more. The Administration’s work is rooted in the President’s respect for the unique Nation-to-Nation relationship, commitment to fulfilling the country’s trust and treaty responsibilities, and desire to strengthen Tribal sovereignty and self-determination.
“Ensuring that Tribes have access to the resources they need to participate in the Federal permitting review and authorization process is a key component to the work we do at the Permitting Council,” says Eric Beightel, Permitting Council Executive Director. “In order to improve the efficiency and accountability of the permitting process overall it is imperative that Tribes are equipped with every tool they need to engage in the process as we work to bring critical infrastructure to communities across the nation.”
The Permitting Council held Tribal consultations earlier this year to better understand Tribal needs in the permitting review and authorization process. Feedback from those consultations assisted in the development of this program. The Permitting Council Executive Director may consider the need to increase available funding through the ERIF TAP at a later date, depending on interest and successful implementation. For eligibility requirements refer to the ERIF TAP application, which is now available on the Permitting Dashboard.
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 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.