The following Federal agencies and departments are members of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council tasked with modernizing federal infrastructure permitting to create efficient project delivery and improved outcomes. The Steering Council was created by Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, which added FERC and NRC to the 13 agencies and departments that composed a previous “Steering Committee” created under executive authority.
Executive Order 13604 directed the original Steering Committee’s members to develop “an Agency Plan identifying those permitting and review processes the Member Agency views as most critical to significantly reducing the aggregate time required to make permitting and review decisions on infrastructure projects while improving outcomes for communities and the environment, and describing specific measurable actions the agency will take to improve these processes.” Where available, Agency Plans are provided below.
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is an independent federal agency that promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of our nation's historic resources, and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy.
Specifically, ACHP oversees the implementation of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to ensure that federal agencies consult with interested parties to identify and evaluate historic properties, assess the effects of their undertakings on historic properties, and attempt to negotiate an outcome that will balance project needs and historic preservation values.
View ACHP’s Agency Plan.
Army Corps of Engineers
The U.S. Army Corps of Enginers (USACE) delivers vital public and military engineering services; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our Nation’s security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters.
The Directorate of Civil Works conducts water resource development activities, including flood risk management, navigation, recreation, infrastructure and environmental stewardship, as well as providing emergency response services. The Regulatory/Permitting Division regulates construction and other work in navigable waterways under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, and has authority over the discharge of dredged or fill material into waterways, wetlands and all other aquatic areas under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
View USACE’s Agency Plan.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.
USDA Rural Development invests in rural infrastructure development, including energy, water and broadband projects. USDA is a co-chair of the Broadband Opportunity Council with the Department of Commerce.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) preserves national forests and grasslands by requiring special-use authorizations for project proposals seeking rights-of-way or other uses of National Forest System Land.
View USDA’s Agency Plan.
U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)has a unique mission encompassing maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship. Of particular note for infrastructure projects, the Coast Guard administers bridge permits, reviewing the location and plans of bridges and causeways that cross navigable U.S. waters per the requirements of the General Bridge Act of 1946 and Section 9 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.
View USCG’s Agency Plan.
Department of Commerce
The Department of Commerce creates the conditions for economic growth and opportunity by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and stewardship informed by world-class scientific research and information.
The National Telecommunications & Information Administration is engaged in a range of efforts to increase broadband Internet access and adoption in America, which supports economic growth, job creation, and improved education, health care, and public safety. These activities include administration of the Recovery-Act-funded Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and State Broadband Initiative. Interagency efforts to expand broadband development and to streamline regulatory barriers include the Broadband Executive Order 13616 Working Group and the Broadband Opportunity Council (which the Department of Commerce co-chairs with USDA).
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries is responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s ocean resources and their habitat, including marine and coastal ecosystems. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), NOAA Fisheries works to recover protected marine species while allowing economic and recreational opportunities, for instance, by evaluating “incidental take” permit applications for activities that may negatively impact marine mammals, carrying out ESA Section 7 consultations with other Federal agencies, and issuing biological opinions on how Federal actions will impact endangered marine species.
View Commerce's Agency Plan.
Department of Defense
The Department of Defense (DOD)is America's oldest and largest government agency, whose mission is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country. DOD’s Siting Clearinghouse reviews proposed energy projects to ensure that they don’t impede the military’s performance of its mission, for instance, by establishing sufficient distance between proposed projects and military training sites or flight routes.
View DOD’s Agency Plan.
Department of Energy
The mission of the Department of Energy is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. The Department of Energy works to catalyze the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and secure U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies.
For instance, the Department of Energy partners with states and other stakeholders to plan more resilient power generation and electricity transmission infrastructure that can better withstand extreme weather events; invests in renewable energy infrastructure; and is working to modernize the nation’s electric grid.
View Energy’s Agency Plan.
Environmental Protection Agency
The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. EPA’s primary goals are to improve air quality and take action on climate change; protect America’s waters; clean up communities and advance sustainable development; ensure the safety of chemicals and prevent pollution; and enforce environmental laws. EPA accomplishes its mission by a variety of research, monitoring, standard setting, and enforcement activities. EPA also coordinates and supports research and antipollution activities of State and local and tribal governments, private and public groups, individuals, and educational institutions.
EPA oversees the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, as authorized by the Clean Water Act. Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our Nation’s water quality. This program controls water pollution by regulating point sources – such as pipes or man-made ditches – that discharge pollutants, wastewater or stormwater into U.S. waters (e.g., lakes, rivers or the ocean). In most cases, the NPDES permit program is administered by authorized states, although EPA Region 9 issues NPDES permits for Tribal lands in Arizona, California, Nevada and Navajo Lands, for U.S. Pacific Island territories, and for any discharges into federal ocean water beyond state boundaries.
View EPA’s Agency Plan.
Department of Homeland Security
The vision of Homeland Security(DHS) is to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, aspirations, and way of life can thrive. DHS oversees both the Coast Guard (see description and links above) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has responsibility for coordinating the Federal government’s disaster recovery efforts and also supports states and localities in disaster preparedness and resilience planning.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The mission of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD’s role in infrastructure development is mainly related to working toward the goal that all American homes and communities are adequately served by residential infrastructure resources, such as power and water systems and broadband service. For instance, HUD supports community planning for resilient infrastructure and infrastructure restoration during disaster recovery, most recently by leading the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.
Department of the Interior
The U.S. Department of the Interior protects and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage; provides scientific and other information about those resources; and honors its trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated Island Communities.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is to conserve wildlife and plants in accordance with conservation laws and treaties, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, among others. Activities or projects that may result in harm to a threatened or endangered species must seek permits and provide habitat conservation plans (HCPs) to minimize and mitigate the harm. USFWS also conducts ESA consultations with Federal agencies and issues biological opinions for Federal projects that may adversely affect a listed species.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages vast stretches of public lands – among over 245 million acres of total surface land – that have the potential to make significant contributions to the Nation’s renewable energy portfolio. This gives the BLM a leading role in fulfilling the Administration’s goals for a new energy economy based on a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy. More generally, to ensure the best balance of uses and resource protections for America’s public lands, the BLM undertakes extensive land use planning through a collaborative approach with local, state and tribal governments, the public, and stakeholder groups. The result is a set of land use plans – called Resource Management Plans – that provide the framework to guide decisions for every action and approved use on the National System of Public Lands.
Along with operating dams and reservoirs in the Western U.S., the Bureau of Reclamation is a water management agency supplying water to more than 31 million people. Its mission is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public. BOR reviews applications seeking use of Reclamation land, facilities, or waterbodies – for instance, for utility or transportation crossings, or for broadband infrastructure – to determine if the requested use is compatible with authorized project purposes, is in the best interests of the public, and is consistent with appropriate resources management and environmental considerations for the area.
The National Park Service reviews applications for right of way permits to pass over, under, or through an NPS-owned or controlled area. Except when authorized by Congress, any use of park land that would impair the values and purposes for which the park was authorized or be incompatible with the public interest is forbidden. This enables NPS to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.
View Interior’s Agency Plan.
Department of Transportation
TheDepartment of Transportation (DOT)oversees policies and programs that contribute to providing fast, safe, efficient, and convenient transportation at the lowest cost consistent with national objectives such as the general welfare, economic growth and stability, and security of the United States – as well as the efficient use and conservation of national resources.
Because of DOT’s extensive experience with environmentally-responsible infrastructure planning and development through its Federal Aviation, Highway, Railroad, Transit and Maritime Administrations (respectively, FAA, FHWA, FRA, FTA and MARAD), it is one of the co-leaders of the Federal government’s Cross-Agency Priority Goal for Infrastructure Permitting Modernization (along with the White House Office of Management and Budget and Council on Environmental Quality). DOT has also participated in other major interagency environmental review coordination initiatives, including leading the development of the Eco-Logical report, framework and grant program (promoting an ecosystem approach to natural resource management, protection, and assistance in infrastructure project planning and development), and co-leading the development of the 2015 Red Book interagency coordination handbook with the Army Corps of Engineers.
One of DOT’s “modes” is also responsible for issuing authorizations: FAA conducts aeronautical studies and reviews of construction or alterations which may affect navigable airspace under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 77, to promote air safety and the efficient use of the navigable airspace.
View Transportation’s Agency Plan.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity, with the goal of assisting consumers in obtaining reliable, efficient and sustainable energy services at a reasonable cost through appropriate regulatory and market means. FERC also licenses and oversees hydropower projects.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is an independent agency with the mission of ensuring the safe use of radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes while protecting people and the environment. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants (reactors) and other uses of nuclear materials through licensing, inspection and enforcement measures. Along with solar and wind energy generation, nuclear power plays a role in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. There are currently 100 nuclear power plants licensed to operate in the United States, which generate about 20% of our nation’s electrical use.
The Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundationis a federal agency providing programs to promote leadership, education, collaboration, and conflict resolution in the areas of environment, public lands, and natural resources in order to strengthen Native nations, assist federal agencies and others to resolve environmental conflicts, and to encourage the continued use and appreciation of our nation’s rich resources.