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Infrastructure Permit Streamlining Under FAST Act

Last December, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act),[1] the first multi-year federal transportation bill enacted in a decade.  Almost unnoticed among nearly five hundred pages of transportation law were twenty-one pages of new, highly detailed procedural rules for federal permitting of most major infrastructure and other capital projects, and authorization for a large administrative apparatus within the Executive Office of the President.  The new rules and administrative structure should, if funded and implemented, prove to be a welcome boost to ongoing efforts by the current Administration to improve the federal permitting and siting process.  This article describes the new law and its implementation challenges, and offers thoughts on the FAST Act’s potential value to infrastructure developers.

The authors of this paper have been involved with many federal infrastructure and other permitting processes that were defined by interagency discord, ever-receding schedules, uncontrolled agency costs, and unwelcome surprises.  But we also served as regulatory counsel to the first interstate electric transmission project that received expedited review under the earliest manifestation of the Obama Administration’s infrastructure permit streamlining initiative.  The process applied to that multi-billion dollar transmission project benefited greatly from a well-enforced decision-making schedule at the Interior Department and authoritative oversight of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process from the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).  Despite tough siting and permitting issues and determined opposition, the project was approved and built and put into service within a timeframe that was far faster than the schedule experienced by every other major interstate transmission project in the federal approval process at that time. 

For the full article, please see here.

[1] Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, Pub. L. No. 114-94, 129 Stat. 1312 (2015) [hereinafter Fast Act].

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 Thomas C. Jensen, Holland Hart, Natural resources Lawyer, Environmental Policy Attorney, Washington DC
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Thomas C. Jensen is a nationally recognized practitioner of natural resources and environmental law. Mr. Jensen provides highly experienced strategic and regulatory counsel to leaders throughout the business, government and nonprofit sectors. Formerly counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and White House Council on Environmental Quality, Mr. Jensen offers unique experience framing and implementing solutions to multidimensional legal and policy matters. His practice is defined by service to private- and public-sector parties seeking...

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Sandra A. Snodgrass, Holland Hart, Complex Federal Environmental Review, Energy Policy Lawyer, Attorney
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Ms. Snodgrass helps natural resource developers, pipeline companies, traditional and renewable energy companies, and other clients successfully navigate the complex federal environmental review and permitting processes for a variety of proposed projects.  Her extensive experience includes National Environmental Policy Act compliance and litigation; Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation, Section 10 habitat conservation plans and incidental take permits, candidate conservation agreements, species listing issues, and litigation; development of avian and bat protection plans and bird and bat conservation strategies under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; Bald and Golden Eagle Act permitting issues; Clean Water Act Section 404 permits; National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultation; right-of-way grants under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and Mineral Leasing Act; voluntary conservation agreements; and certificates of public convenience and necessity under the Natural Gas Act.

Ms. Snodgrass joined Holland & Hart in 1999 after graduating from Northwestern University School of Law.

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 Matthew P. Castelli, Holland Hart, natural resources issues lawyer, Clean Air Act attorney
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Mr. Castelli is an associate in the firm’s Denver office and focuses his practice in the areas of litigation, federal state and environmental issues, and natural resources issues, while concentrating on the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Spices Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.

Prior to joining Holland & Hart, Mr. Castelli worked at the Conservation Law Center where he supported litigation under the Endangered Species Act and assessed compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.  ...

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