The American people rely on infrastructure improvements to benefit our economy, society, and environment. However, the current environmental review and permitting process in the United States is fragmented, inefficient, unpredictable, and raises costs. The President’s Management Agenda and the Modernize Infrastructure Permitting Cross-Agency Priority Goal (CAP Goal) seek to provide consistent, coordinated, and predictable Federal environmental reviews and authorization processes and reduce the overall time it takes to make decisions for major infrastructure projects while also ensuring that potential impacts on the environment are considered and managed.
In support of this goal, the White House announced on Friday the appointment of a new Executive Director for the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council). To date, actions taken by the Permitting Council have resulted in over $1 billion in costs savings through avoided permitting process delays. For example, the Permitting Council saved the project sponsor of a gas transmission pipeline from an estimated six-month delay and $300 million in capital costs by coordinating closely with Federal agencies to avoid unnecessary delay during the National Historic Preservation Act review, allowing subsequent authorizations to move forward. The Permitting Council also successfully reduced the permitting timetable by 22 months on a proposed sediment diversion project. This expedited timeline should allow the State of Louisiana to move forward on the proposed project two years earlier than previously scheduled.
To further accelerate progress, and in accordance with Executive Order 13807, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memorandum M-18-25 today which establishes a new performance accountability system that tracks the environmental review and authorization decision process for major infrastructure projects, and requires agency officials to engage in regular reviews of agency performance.
The accountability system will require agencies to report data on different performance indicators including whether they are jointly and cooperatively processing environmental reviews and making authorization decisions, whether they are meeting major milestone target dates, and the time it takes to complete reviews and make decisions. OMB will review agencies’ performance through the new system at least once each quarter and will publish a quarterly scorecard of agency performance and overall progress toward achieving CAP Goal targets.
Additionally, the Permitting Council recently published a notice in the Federal Register proposing an initiation fee of $200,000 for project sponsors to reimburse the Permitting Council’s Office of the Executive Director for reasonable costs to implement certain requirements and authorities required under Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41). FAST-41 is a voluntary program for large, complex infrastructure projects that breaks down silos through enhanced coordination, ensures efficiency in the permitting process, and provides oversight and issue resolution without modifying or undermining any underlying federal statutes or regulations, or the status of any mandatory reviews.
For more information on the performance accountability system, please click here.
For more information on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, please click here.
For more information on the benefits of FAST-41, please click here.