Report Signals Accountability Mechanism for Agency Compliance with Publicly Posted Permitting Timetables
Permitting Council Press Office (Media@fpisc.gov)
WASHINGTON (June 1, 2022)- This week the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council) Executive Director released a first-of-its kind Quarterly Agency Performance Report (Report) for the first quarter of 2022. The Report details a period of transition for the newly permanent agency, as it instates a series of project permitting accountability reforms contained in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
“I am proud of the work of the Permitting Council during the first quarter of this year, as we worked to make significant improvement in the Federal permitting process for infrastructure projects across the country,” says Christine Harada, Executive Director of the Permitting Council. “As we continue to build towards achieving the goals of the BIL, these accomplishments will grow as we put in place actions that will aid agencies in making the best permitting decisions for our country’s economic competitiveness and the health of our environment.”
The Report showcases the beginnings of a transformative period for the Permitting Council, as the agency began its first calendar year as a permanent and independent Federal agency. With the passage of the BIL in November 2021, FAST-41 and the Permitting Council were reauthorized, setting into motion a series of actions that will strengthen the Federal permitting process, and reinforce agency accountability for ensuing a coordinated, collaborative, and transparent path for the next generation of infrastructure projects.
While the results of many of these actions will not be apparent until the implementation of revisions to the FAST-41 Data Management Guide in the third quarter of this year, the inaugural Report outlines a series of accomplishments in agency management of infrastructure project permitting timetables, including a significant reduction in “missed” permitting timetable milestones, and increased agency compliance with FAST-41 permitting timetable notification and modification procedures.
During the first quarter of 2022 there were 24 active FAST-41 covered projects on the Permitting Dashboard, with the majority in the offshore wind, solar and other renewable energy sectors. On January 28th, the South Fork Wind Farm and South Fork Export Cable project was completed, and on March 28th, the Permitting Council added the Maryland Offshore Wind project to the FAST-41 portfolio.
The Permitting Council is currently working to implement its revised Data Management Guide in order to incorporate requirements of the BIL, and anticipates implementing a full suite of comprehensive, qualitative agency compliance assessment tools in the 3rd quarter of the year.
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, predictability, and outcomes 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 conventional energy production, renewable energy production, electricity transmission, surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource, broadband, pipelines, manufacturing, mining, and carbon capture sectors.