Project Aims to Bring High Speed Internet to Tribal Digital Deserts
Permitting Council Press Office (Media@fpisc.gov)
WASHINGTON (May 9, 2023) – The Permitting Council is excited to announce the first Tribal and first broadband project to receive FAST-41 coverage. If permitted, the Santa Fe Indian School Pueblo Education Network Broadband project will provide high speed internet access to communities and students throughout rural and Tribal areas of New Mexico.
“The coverage of both Tribal and broadband projects under the benefits of FAST-41 is a game-changer for our program and is in perfect alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s broadband infrastructure goals,” says Christine Harada, Executive Director for the Permitting Council. “Our team looks forward to working closely with the Santa Fe Indian School to make sure they receive the accountability that the FAST-41 program provides as they work toward their goal of bringing critical high speed internet access to communities in need.”
Presently owned and operated by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Indian School was founded in 1890 to educate Native American students. The Santa Fe Indian School broadband project is the latest infrastructure project to receive the benefits of the Permitting Council’s unique permitting review process. The proposed project features over 300 miles of broadband infrastructure that aims to connect 700 students in grades 7-12 and the members of the surrounding community to high speed internet service. After the pandemic highlighted the need for improved broadband access, project proponents hope this project transforms the lives of Tribal communities throughout rural New Mexico.
Over $57 million in funding for the project comes from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Tribal Broadband Connecting Program. It is a $3 billion dollar program that is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s “Internet for All” initiative, working to provide affordable and reliable high speed internet to everyone in America by the end of the decade.
“We are committed to ensuring that our grantees, like the Santa Fe Indian School, are successful in bringing affordable and reliable high-speed Internet service to their communities,” said Adam Geisler, Division Chief for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity and Nation-to-Nation Coordination Division. “Projects like the Santa Fe Indian School are essential if we are going to achieve Internet for All.”
Learn more about the Santa Fe Indian School Broadband project and the FAST-41 program at Permitting.gov.
About the Permitting Council
Established in 2015 by Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41), 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, 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.