The now-passed Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), memorializing the debt-ceiling agreement, includes a number of federal permitting provisions. These include:
- 2-year time limit for completion of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)-required Environmental Impact Statements (EIS);
- 1-year time limit for completion of NEPA-required Environmental Assessments (EA);
- Court intervention will be allowed if deadlines are not met;
- A single federal agency can now act as the lead for the EIS (similar to expedited permitting for Fast-41 projects) with one set of agency documents;
- Battery storage projects will now be covered by the same expedited permitting provisions as Fast-41 projects, which had been allowed only for projects of $200M or more;
- Fewer alternative locations of projects are required to be considered by federal agencies;
- Federal agencies can assume another agency’s categorical exclusion (CATEX) decision, which exempts projects from NEPA reviews;
- Private companies are allowed more participation in preparing their own project-related environmental reviews;
- E-NEPA electronic tool to submit information and for data sharing with the public;
- Permitting of the West Virginia Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline (MVP); and
- A study for inter-regional transmission.
More major provisions that would have advanced transmission and other provisions impacting a broad spectrum of energy projects were not included. There is a group of four bipartisan Senators working on a bill that would craft a larger compromise, which they would like to be passed prior to the August recess. We are also hearing that the potential to use the appropriations bills, likely to be turned to next by Congress, may also be vehicles for possible energy provision inclusions.