Meet the Executive Director
Biden-Harris Administration Presidential appointee Eric Beightel serves as the Executive Director of the Permitting Council. As Executive Director, Beightel assists Permitting Council member agencies in managing a portfolio of nearly $100 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects— including those in the renewable energy, coastal restoration, broadband, and electricity transmission sectors. Executive Director Beightel assists federal agencies in developing and implementing comprehensive, project-specific timetables for all required infrastructure permitting reviews and authorizations for FAST-41 covered projects, advancing the administration's goal to build innovative and transformative once-in-a-generation infrastructure.
A nationally recognized expert in the environmental and infrastructure fields, Beightel brings more than 20 years of experience to the Permitting Council, including significant time spent in federal service. Beightel’s extensive public and private sector experience honed his command of the National Environmental Policy Act and his capacity for solving complex environmental permitting problems on the local, state and national level. His experience includes serving as a senior environmental policy advisor at the Department of Transportation, developing and implementing strategies to reduce permitting and review timelines while delivering better outcomes for communities and the environment. He also worked as a policy advisor at the Office of Management and Budget, serving as a subject matter expert on the federal permitting and review process for major infrastructure projects. In the private sector Beightel worked for WSP, USA as a senior director and vice president, working with clients to develop innovative strategies to navigate the federal environmental regulatory framework efficiently. Most recently he served as an associate vice president and national lead for infrastructure policy and environmental strategy at HDR, Inc., a global engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services firm.
Eric Beightel holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and a Master of Public Policy degree from George Mason University.
Manisha Patel is the Deputy Executive Director of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council). Ms. Patel has over two decades of experience developing and implementing regulations, policies, and guidance for public agencies and the private sector to deliver infrastructure projects effectively and efficiently, while protecting our natural resources and producing positive outcomes for our communities. Her mastery of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and acumen for solving complex multi-jurisdictional problems, including working with a broad and diverse range of stakeholders, have yielded some of the fundamental federal environmental and energy efficiency regulations and policy of the last decade.
Prior to joining the executive staff at the Permitting Council, Ms. Patel was a Vice President at WSP, a global engineering services firm. At WSP, Ms. Patel led the Environmental Process and Policy Practice Team, providing cross-disciplinary strategic advice to deliver major infrastructure projects by using innovative approaches for accelerated environmental reviews and permitting approvals.
Ms. Patel shepherded the development of a Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) guidebook for the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. PEL is a collaborative approach to transportation decision-making that uses the community, economic, environmental and transportation goals developed during the planning stage to inform and accelerate the environmental review process under NEPA. She was also part of the team that identified and implemented the process used by the State of California to become the first state to assume federal environmental responsibilities from the Federal Railroad Administration under the NEPA Assignment Program (23 USC 327). Ms. Patel co-authored the handbook that describes the NEPA policies and practices used by the California High Speed Rail Authority to deliver the largest infrastructure project in the nation.
Ms. Patel’s former federal service includes serving as the Deputy General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to provide government-wide legal advice on NEPA. She also served as the Deputy Associate Director for Regulatory Policy at CEQ, working closely with federal agencies, state and local governments, stakeholders, and other White House offices to advance sound and practical policy. Prior to joining CEQ, she served in various capacities at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holding leadership positions in EPA’s Office of General Counsel and Office of Regional Counsel (Region 6).
Ms. Patel served as a primary reviewer for the 2015 U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Red Book: Synchronizing Environmental Reviews for Transportation and other Infrastructure Projects. She also played an integral role in the drafting and implementation of key environmental provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. She was one of the architects of FAST-41.
Ms. Patel has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northwestern University and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. She is also an alumna of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Executive Energy Leadership Academy. She hails from Lima, Ohio; started her career in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C.; proudly lived in Dallas, Texas; planted roots in Falls Church, Virginia; and now happily calls St. Louis, Missouri home.