08/01/13 Senator Joe Donnelly yesterday joined Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-OH) in introducing t Federal Permitting Improvement Act of 2013.  The bill, also supported by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), would cut red tape to improve the permitting process for big infrastructure projects, helping private industry create jobs in Indiana and across the country.

“My number one priority is to help create jobs, and I think one of the best ways to create jobs is to establish the right conditions for the private sector to invest in our country’s infrastructure,” said Donnelly.  “This bipartisan legislation would encourage investment by requiring government agencies to work together to cut red tape, set deadlines, and increase transparency.  We should be building things in this country, and that means expediting the transportation, energy, and other infrastructure projects that strengthen our economy.”

The Federal Permitting Improvement Act would improve the permitting process for major capital projects by improving coordination among agencies and deadline-setting for permitting decisions, enhancing transparency, and reducing litigation delays.  It would apply to construction activities with an investment of more than $25 million that require review by a federal agency.  The bill’s reforms would apply across all sectors, including renewable or conventional energy production, electricity transmission, surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource projects, broadband, pipelines, manufacturing.

It would not alter substantive standards or safeguards, but rather seeks to create a smarter, more transparent, and better-managed process for government review and approval of major capital projects.


The legislation has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO Building & Construction Trades, and Business Roundtable.  To read the full text of the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable letters of support, click here and here.


Key Reforms in the Federal Permitting Improvement Act include:


1.     Better Coordination and Deadline-Setting

·      Creates an interagency council, led by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to identify best practices and deadlines for required reviews and approvals of various types of infrastructure projects.

·      Establishes a formal role for a single “lead agency” to set a permitting timetable for each major capital project, in consultation with participating agencies and based on OMB guidance.

·      Encourages greater cooperation with state and local permitting authorities.

·      Encourages agencies to conduct environmental reviews by the most efficient process available.


2.     Greater Transparency and Early Public Participation

·      Creates a public, on-line “dashboard” to track agency progress on required approvals and reviews of major capital projects and to provide access to relevant documents.

·      Requires agencies to reach out to and accept comments from stakeholders early in the approval and review process, with the aim of more quickly identifying and addressing important public concerns.


3.     Litigation Reforms

·      Reduces the current (default) statute of limitations on NEPA suits from 6 years to 150 days — as in the bipartisan 2012 transportation bill, MAP-21.

·      Permits courts to consider potential job loss in weighing equitable considerations for injunctive relief.


Watch video of Senator Donnelly’s remarks on the Federal Permitting Improvement Act here.