WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today defended the independence of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council), which focuses on streamlining the process for environmental permit approval for large infrastructure projects.
As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) during the 116th Congress, Kennedy worked to give the Permitting Council the freedom and resources it needs to move federal infrastructure projects forward in a timely manner.
“Louisianians know firsthand how important federal infrastructure investment is to communities across the country. They also know that bureaucracy often delays crucial road, bridge and levee construction. As a new administration begins, I hope the increased funding and independence that the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council gained last Congress continue so that the council can keep doing its work efficiently and transparently,” said Kennedy.
Congress established the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council in 2015. Since then, it has served as an impartial federal partner that oversees and coordinates multiple federal agencies that play a role in the federal environmental permitting of major infrastructure projects. The Permitting Council is funded through the FSGG Appropriations Subcommittee.
The Permitting Council’s mission is to improve the timeliness, predictability and transparency of the permitting process. Under Kennedy’s FSGG chairmanship, the council’s annual funding increased by $9 million. In addition, the FY 2020 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill elevated the council from an office within General Services Administration located inside the White House to an independent entity.
The Permitting Council does not perform National Environmental Policy Act reviews or change environmental standards. Rather, the council works with the agencies involved in the infrastructure permitting process to establish and meet their deadlines. It also mediates differences among the agencies to prevent or minimize delays that occur when sister agencies are deadlocked in disagreement over matters of overlapping jurisdiction.
The Permitting Council is chaired by an executive director who is appointed by the president. The council is composed of agency representatives at the deputy-secretary level. The Permitting Council includes members from the following agencies:
- Department of Agriculture
- Army Corps of Engineers
- Department of Commerce
- Department of the 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
- Office of Management and Budget
- Council on Environmental Quality