Streamlining Federal Permitting and Approvals For Infrastructure Projects



The Trump Administration has focused on the renewal of public infrastructure and reducing the amount of time for federal approvals. The National Economic Council, Office of Management and Budget, and Council on Environmental Quality are working with federal agencies to improve environmental reviews and permitting processes for public infrastructure projects.

Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act-Title 41

Infrastructure and permitting issues have been addressed by the Fixing Americas Surface Transportation Act, Title 41 (FAST41). This 2015 law created a new governance structure, set of procedures, and authority to establish a fee or transfer appropriations from certain agencies to improve the timeliness, predictability, and transparency of the Federal environmental review and authorization process for covered infrastructure projects. It does so while upholding the U.S. Governments responsibility to protect public health, welfare, safety, and the environment.

Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council

The law established the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) as an interagency council to oversee the Federal permitting and approval processes and implementation of FAST41.

FPISC is led by an Executive Director appointed by the President and consists of members from 13 Federal agencies, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of the Army (Civil Works)
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Interior
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Defense
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

The FPISC has a public Dashboard for updated information related to Federal infrastructure Projects – Permitting Dashboard link to

Here is an overview of the FPISC and the streamlining process
Improving Federal Permitting & Approvals Processes

Federal Highways Administration Link to FAST Act –

Projects may be eligible to be covered under FAST-41 if they:

  • involve construction of infrastructure,
  • require authorization or environmental review by a Federal agency,
  • are subject to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA),
  • are likely to require a total investment of more than $200 million, and
  • do not qualify for an abbreviated environmental review and `authorization process.

Projects may also be covered if they are subject to NEPA and, due to their size and complexity, FPISC determines that the FAST-41 coordination process and oversight would be beneficial.

FAST-41 applies to the following sectors:

  • Conventional energy production
  • Renewable energy production
  • Electricity transmission
  • Surface transportation
  • Aviation
  • Ports and waterways
  • Water resource projects
  • Broadband
  • Pipelines
  • Manufacturing

Note: Additional sectors may be considered by the Council.

Executive Order 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects.

On Aug 15, 2017 the President signed Executive Order 13807, The purpose states

“America needs increased infrastructure investment to strengthen our economy, enhance our competitiveness in world trade, create jobs and increase wages for our workers, and reduce the costs of goods and services for our families. The poor condition of Americas infrastructure has been estimated to cost a typical American household thousands of dollars each year. Inefficiencies in current infrastructure project decisions, including management of environmental reviews and permit decisions or authorizations, have delayed infrastructure investments, increased project costs, and blocked the American people from enjoying improved infrastructure that would benefit our economy, society, and environment. More efficient and effective Federal infrastructure decisions can transform our economy, so the Federal Government, as a whole, must change the way it processes environmental reviews and authorization decisions.”

The Executive Order directs the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to undertake a number of actions. Including Section 5(e)(i) EO 13807 provides that [w]ithin 30 days of the date of this order, the CEQ shall develop an initial list of actions it will take to enhance and modernize the Federal environmental review and authorization process.

More details can be found on the Administration website to implement EO 13807

FAST-41 and EO 13807 are focused on supporting public infrastructure.

Roles for the Department of Defense and Army Civil Works

The Department of Defense and Department of the Army (Civil Works) have separate roles on the FPISC corresponding to their missions. The DoD role is to cover military installations and mission. DOD’s Siting Clearinghouse was established in 2010 and is the DOD’s single point of contact for Federal agencies, State and local governments, developers, and landowners for timely, transparent, and science-based analysis to identify impacts from energy development projects on military readiness and operations.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) conducts water resource development activities, including flood risk management, navigation, ecosystem restoration, hydropower, recreation, and environmental stewardship, as well as providing emergency response services. Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, as amended, and codified in 33 USC 408 (Section 408) provides that the Secretary of the Army may, upon the recommendation of the Chief of Engineers, grant permission to other entities for the permanent or temporary alteration or use of any USACE Civil Works project. USACE regulates work or structures in, over, or under navigable waters of the United States or affecting the course, location, or condition of navigable waters of the United States pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the discharge of dredged or fill material into U.S. waters, including wetlands, pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and the transportation of dredged material for open ocean disposal pursuant to Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.

EO 13766 – Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects

EO 13805 – Establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure

EO 13807 – Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects