The Permitting Council has added the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project to the Permitting Dashboard, effective July 29. The SunZia project is an electricity transmission project that will deliver 3,000 to 4,500 MW of clean energy to the Western United States. It is in line with the Administration’s plan to accelerate the needed expansion and modernization of America’s power infrastructure to build a more reliable electric grid, create good-paying, union jobs, and deliver clean American energy to American businesses and homeowners. The project is among 20 major transmission projects poised to move forward, potentially creating more than 600,000 new transmission-related jobs and an additional 640,000 jobs from new clean energy generation projects enabled by the new transmission lines. As a FAST-41 covered project, the SunZia project will benefit from state-of-the-art Federal project review and permitting process reforms for large-scale infrastructure projects, transparent permitting timetable development and execution, and enhanced interagency coordination.
In 2015, Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41) created the Permitting Council to improve the timeliness, predictability, and transparency of the Federal permitting process for large, complex infrastructure projects. Comprised of an Executive Director, 13 Federal agency council members, the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Permitting Council uses the FAST-41 process to guide projects from a dozen sectors through as many as 60 Federal reviews and authorizations.
The FAST-41 process is a voluntary program governed by statutory eligibility criteria and expressly does not alter any applicable statutory or regulatory requirement, environmental review process, or public involvement procedure. FAST-41 coverage also does not predetermine the outcome of any Federal decision-making process for any project. Instead, the Permitting Council achieves FAST-41 benefits by coordinating interagency efforts, eliminating needless duplication, and engaging Federal agencies and project sponsors to foster improved communication and clarify expectations.
The Permitting Council has recognized unprecedented success in achieving its statutory objectives, as documented in its Annual Reports to Congress. The Permitting Council's process management strategy; consensus-driven permitting timetables; and enhanced coordination between Federal agencies; state, local, and Tribal partners; and project sponsors; have saved covered project sponsors more than $1 billion in total costs and an average of two years in project review and permitting time.
The Permitting Council's current active project portfolio includes 15 renewable energy production projects, three pipeline projects, two water resource projects, two conventional energy production projects, three electricity transmission projects, and one ports and waterways project—representing over $97 billion in economic investment and over 49,000 jobs. The Office of the Executive Director is committed to working with its member agencies to advance the administration's Build Back Better plan to maximize domestic investment and sustainable job creation by greening and modernizing America's critical infrastructure.