On December 4, 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into law. Title 41 of the FAST Act (FAST-41) (42 U.S.C. § 4370m) created a new governance structure, set of procedures, and funding authorities designed to improve the timeliness, predictability, and transparency of the Federal environmental review and authorization process for covered infrastructure projects.
FAST-41 Implementation Guidance
On January 13, 2017, OMB and CEQ, in coordination with the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), issued guidance for agencies to carry out responsibilities under Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41). In addition to addressing statutory requirements, the guidance also introduces a framework for tracking covered projects' environmental and community outcomes on the Permitting Dashboard, resulting in increased transparency. Please click here to read the guidance document.
Recommended Best Practices
On January 18, 2017, FPISC released Recommended Best Practices for Environmental Reviews and Authorizations for Infrastructure Projects. Federal agencies are encouraged to make improvements consistent with these recommendations, as appropriate, in their execution of the environmental reviews and authorizations for infrastructure projects.
Recommended Performance Schedules
On January 18, 2017, FPISC released Recommended Performance Schedules for Environmental Reviews and Authorizations for FAST-41 Covered Infrastructure Projects. This first report provides a generic permitting timetable for covered projects and establishes the groundwork for future development of performance schedules for specific project sectors.
Principles for Effective Stakeholder Engagement
This paper from the Udall Foundation's U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution provides Principles for Effective Stakeholder Engagement in Infrastructure Permitting and Review Processes. While all principals in this report are valuable, the FPISC Recommended Best Practices report highlights two of them (#1 and #7) for particular attention.
Federal Environmental Review & Authorizations Inventory
The Federal Environmental Review and Authorization Inventory is a comprehensive spreadsheet searchable database containing detailed information on various permitting, review, and approval processes conducted by Federal agencies that may be required for infrastructure projects, including NEPA and other interagency reviews. For each included permit or review, the inventory offers such information as its description, activities that trigger it, and links to applicable statutes and regulations. The inventory can also be sorted by infrastructure sector and/or responsible agency.
Permitting IT Tools Inventory
The Permitting Tools Inventory is a compilation of web-based documents and tools that support permitting, review, and authorization processes conducted by Federal agencies that may be required for infrastructure projects, including NEPA and other interagency reviews. For each tool, the inventory offers a brief description and a link to the tool's homepage.
The Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit offers one location for agencies, developers, and industry stakeholders to work together on State and Federal bulk transmission and renewable energy regulatory processes by using a wiki environment to share permitting guidance, regulations, contacts, and other relevant information.
The Broadband Inventory provides a central repository of documents and information relevant to the development and Federal permitting and review of broadband projects, including applications, forms, lease agreements, policies and procedures, and process documents. Although the majority of this documentation is also housed on agency-specific websites, this centralized document inventory will ease the burden on wireless providers, public safety, and other project sponsors or applicants who undergo Federal reviews prior to broadband deployment.
The Broadband Map displays all GSA-owned buildings and lands, with point of contact information, where a commercial antenna installation might be sited. It also contains several layers of data useful to broadband deployment, providing visibility into sensitive resources such as the location of National Parks, protected wilderness areas, and lands of tribal significance.