WASHINGTON (September 11, 2023) — The Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council) is pleased to announce the appointment of Rebecca Higgins as its first Chief of Staff. Higgins comes to the Permitting Council from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) where she served as a senior policy advisor.
“I am truly elated to take on this opportunity to help bring transparency, collaboration and efficiency to the federal permitting process,” says Rebecca Higgins, newly appointed Chief of Staff for the Permitting Council. “The opportunity to help build this still very new agency, at a moment when there is an urgent need to construct critical infrastructure as well as unparalleled new resources to do so, is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege.”
As Chief of Staff, Higgins will assist Permitting Council Executive Director Eric Beightel as the agency manages a portfolio of nearly $100 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects—including those in the renewable energy, coastal restoration, broadband, and electricity transmission sectors. An established transportation and infrastructure policy expert, Higgins comes to the Permitting Council with extensive experience drafting and negotiating legislation on Capitol Hill. Her expertise in environmental permitting review will greatly benefit the Permitting Council as it works to transform the permitting process.
“I could not be more pleased about Rebecca joining the Permitting Council,” says Eric Beightel, Executive Director of the Permitting Council. “The combination of her senior leadership on Capitol Hill along with her work to streamline the permitting process at the federal agency level makes her a perfect fit to help our team reinvent the permitting process as we know it, bringing coordination and collaboration to the forefront and fulfilling our responsibilities as a center for permitting excellence.”
While on Capitol Hill, Higgins led the Environment and Public Works Committee’s transportation and environmental permitting teams, establishing priorities and communicating recommendations to the Chairman and Senate leadership. She served as lead author and negotiator of the $350 billion highway title of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and key provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. Prior to her work for Chairman Tom Carper, Higgins served as a senior policy analyst at the Department of Transportation where she focused on streamlining environmental review and project delivery, and as an energy industry analyst at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
A graduate of Georgetown University (Masters in Public Policy--Energy and Public Policy) and the University of Chicago (Bachelor of Arts in Sociology), Higgins begins her tenure at the Permitting Council on September 11, 2023. Learn more about the Permitting Council here.
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, 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.