Permitting Council Releases Annual Report to Congress
Annual Report Showcases Significant Investments in the Clean Energy Future, in Support of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Permitting Council Press Office (Media@fpisc.gov)
(WASHINGTON) April 15, 2022- Today, the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council) released its Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. Charged with improving the transparency, predictability and outcomes of the Federal environmental review and authorization process for certain critical infrastructure projects, the report showcases a commitment to the country’s clean energy future that will build upon the nation’s economic and environmental legacy for generations to come.
“2021 was a remarkable year for the Permitting Council, as we worked in coordination with Federal agencies, project sponsors, and everyday citizens to ensure the permitting process was transparent and accountable, while also committing to include environmental justice at its core,” said Christine Harada, Executive Director of the Permitting Council. “With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law [BIL or Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act] making the Permitting Council a permanent Federal agency, this is just the beginning of our work to transform the effectiveness of the permitting process, for the benefit of Americans nationwide.”
The Annual Report to Congress details a transformative year for the Permitting Council, as it began the process of establishing itself as an independent Executive Branch agency in advance of becoming a permanent Federal agency with the passage of the BIL in November 2021. The year included active review and agency coordination on 29 projects covered under Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41) in the offshore wind, solar, electricity transmission, other renewable energy, pipelines, ports and waterways, and water resources sectors. Investments in this infrastructure will play a key role in President Biden’s infrastructure plan, improve the nation’s aging infrastructure, and increase America’s global competitiveness.
Highlights from the report include:
- Meaningful Economic Impact: Projects undergoing active Permitting Council review in FY 2021 represent $98 billion in economic investment and nearly 52,000 potential jobs.
- Demonstrated Investment in the Country’s Clean Energy Future: Offshore wind, solar and other renewable energy production together represent 44 percent of total economic investment dollars under the Permitting Council’s purview.
- Expansion of Offshore Wind Projects: Twelve offshore wind projects make up over 40 percent of the Permitting Council’s project portfolio. These projects are projected to produce over 16 gigawatts of energy, which would power more than 5.9 million homes for one year and offset the greenhouse gas emissions of more than 6 million passenger vehicles driven for one year.
- Improved Coordination with Tribes: In FY 2021 the Permitting Council engaged in several initiatives to improve the Federal government’s engagement with federally recognized Tribes in the environmental review and permitting process, including participating in capacity building trainings for Federal agency staff, and developing a FAST-41 eLearning course for Tribes.
- Strengthened Commitment to FAST-41 Mission: The Permitting Council initiated significant improvements to the Federal infrastructure Permitting Dashboard that will increase transparency in the Federal permitting process and foster more comprehensive project permitting timetables.
To view the Annual Report to Congress, visit the Permitting Council Website.
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, predictability, and outcomes 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 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 FAST-41 program. The FAST-41 program seeks to maximize predictability and positive environmental and community outcomes through:
- Transparency into the Federal environmental review and permitting process, including all major steps and requirements needed to site, construct, and commence operation of a FAST-41 covered project.
- Early identification, elevation, and resolution of potential risks and conflicts that may arise during the Federal environmental review, permitting, and decision-making process.
- Posting and maintaining transparent, publicly accessible permitting timetables on the Federal Permitting Dashboard.
- Clear and regularly updated schedules for completion of each stage of Federal environmental review and permitting, which are coordinated and synchronized among Federal agencies and participating states.
FAST-41 does not dictate project-related outcomes or affect the level of environmental review a project receives. The statute instead requires only transparency and deliberate coordination of Federal effort in making environmental review and permitting decisions. FAST-41 coverage expressly does not alter or supersede any applicable statutory or regulatory requirement, environmental law, regulation, required review process, or public involvement procedure. FAST-41 coverage does not predetermine the outcome of any Federal decision-making process with respect to any covered project, or mandate completion of FAST-41 project reviews before any other project reviews.