Senator Lummis Seeks Permit Reform for Infrastructure

Senator Lummis Seeks Permitting Reform for Federal Infrastructure

Written by on April 27, 2023

U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) highlighted the need for permitting reform during a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) hearing titled “Opportunities to Improve Project Reviews for a Cleaner and Stronger Economy.” Several key infrastructure projects throughout Wyoming have been delayed for years due to our broken federal permitting system.

During the hearing, Lummis questioned Marty Durbin, Global Energy Institute President and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President for Policy, and Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, on the National Environmental Policy Act (N.E.P.A.), the federal environmental law most frequently challenged in courts. Lummis is committed to NEPA reform and finding ways to speed up N.E.P.A. application processes. Currently, environmental reviews for infrastructure projects can take several years due in part to outdated technology used in the review process.

“As a senator, I have the opportunity to take a lot of meetings. These meetings often end in an ask, and one of the most common asks I hear is ‘please reform our federal permitting process,’” said Sen. Lummis. “I’ve heard countless examples from people in Wyoming about projects caught up in reviews, delays and often when a permit is not finally received, litigation. This is unacceptable. We need comprehensive permitting reform to get these important projects back on track.”

Last November, Sen. Lummis introduced the Interactive Federal Review Act to direct the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to select a minimum of ten federal highway projects to demonstrate the use of interactive, digital, cloud-based platforms in carrying out the environmental analysis and community engagement processes required in FHWA projects.

Wyoming currently has eight F.H.W.A. projects that would be eligible for this program. This legislation would move the development of NEPA documents from “trading static PDFs over email to interactive, cloud-based platforms.”

These digital tools are estimated to shorten the cumulative amount of time spent reviewing documents on traditional schedules for large projects by 50% through real-time, concurrent reviews by agencies and more transparency of the N.E.P.A. process for impacted communities and individuals.

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