In the past two years, Congress has enacted the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which could spur combined public and private infrastructure investments of nearly $2 trillion. However, these investments are of little use if we can’t get the projects approved and built due to America's outdated and unpredictable permitting process.
Fortunately, the recent debt ceiling agreement included the first significant reforms to America’s permitting process in more than 50 years.
Key permitting reform provisions in the debt ceiling agreement include:
- Updates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Permitting Process
- Sets a deadline of 2 years for an agency to complete the project’s permitting process. (It currently takes 4.5 years on average to complete this process, with many projects taking a decade or more.)
- Allows project sponsors to petition a court if the agency misses the deadline.
- Mandates there to be a lead agency when more than one agency is involved in the permitting process to ensure a better coordinated process.
- Requires the development of a single environmental permitting document when more than one federal agency is involved in the permitting process to reduce preparation costs and conflicting information.
- Instructs agencies to consider reasonable project alternatives that are technically and economically feasible, guided by the defined purpose of the project.
- Allows project sponsors to prepare the environmental permitting document, with the agency having ultimate control, to help expedite drafting and offset the cost burden.
- Expedites Permit Approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project
- Requires the final permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline project in West Virginia and Virginia to be issued 21 days after enactment and prevents judicial review of any agency action to approve construction.
While the significance of this accomplishment shouldn’t be overlooked, there’s much more work to be done to achieve the meaningful permitting reform that our country and communities need. Our Permit America to Build initiative continues to urge Congress to build on this momentum and enact comprehensive permitting reform by the end of the year.