Agency Launches Environmental Justice Community Listening series to Elevate the Concerns of Minority Communities
FPISC Press Office (Brittney.Gordon@fpisc.gov)
WASHINGTON (March 29, 2022)- The U.S. Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council) announces the launch of its Environmental Justice Community Listening Series. The series aims to ensure that voices of color have a seat at the table during every stage of the infrastructure permitting process. The first event of the series, held in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI), focused on concerns within the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities.
“As the country begins to see the impact of the historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure achieved with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), the Biden Administration stands committed in our promise to advance environmental justice,” says Christine Harada, Executive Director of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council. “Through the work of the Permitting Council we are not only making the permitting process better coordinated and more transparent, but we are also committed to investing in communities too often left behind.”
The launch event is the first in a series of listening sessions, dedicated to making sure that low-income and minority communities are involved at the very start of the infrastructure permitting process. Communities of color have long been concentrated in areas plagued with environmental justice concerns, and the Permitting Council is dedicated to playing a role in bringing all stakeholders into the decision-making process.
The listening series launch event was attended by representatives from 19 AA and NHPI community organizations nationwide, representing a diverse collection of community voices. With environmental justice concerns ranging from pollution to language barriers, the AA and NHPI community provided the Permitting Council with impactful takeaways to help shape the future of the infrastructure permitting process. The Permitting Council plans to continue gathering community input with this listening series, with upcoming events being planned for communities of color across the country, to be followed by a general environmental justice meeting to address all concerns.
Attendees of the launch event included 30 representatives from federal agencies and the White House, including CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory, Deputy Assistant to the President and AA and NHPI Senior Liaison Erika Moritsugu and WHIAANHPI Executive Director Krystal Ka‘ai.
About the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering 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 large-scale 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 additional council members, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The Permitting Council coordinates all Federal environmental reviews and authorizations for infrastructure projects 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 that meet certain criteria and apply to participate in the program. The FAST-41 process seeks to maximize predictability and positive environmental and community outcomes through:
• Coordinated agency action in developing and implementing comprehensive permitting timetables;
• Coordinated establishment of public and Tribal outreach strategies;
• Meaningful project sponsor engagement;
• Identification and implementation of best practices;
• Dispute resolution services;
• Posting and maintaining transparent, publicly accessible permitting timetables on the Federal Permitting Dashboard.
For more information, visit the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council website.