Offshore wind development: How to navigate the environmental permitting sea change
3. Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act: Also known as FAST-41, this directive includes measures to streamline environmental reviews for infrastructure projects. Under FAST- 41, a developer’s responsibility is to submit a complete Initiation Notice, consult on the permitting timetable, and demonstrate technical and financial capability.
The unique benefits associated with FAST-41 include:
- oversight via the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council and the Chief Environmental Review and Permitting Officer.
- greater transparency through the FAST-41 Permitting Dashboard.
- litigation limits via the two-year statute of limitations.
- NEPA litigation claims limited to prior relevant comments during the project’s environmental review.
So, what additional environmental regulatory changes are on the horizon? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service published three proposed rules that would revise the regulation implementation sections of the ESA.
The proposed rules would change the criteria and procedures for three key activities:
- establishing protections for “threatened” species.
- listing and delisting of species and the designation of critical habitat.
- interagency consultation process under ESA Section 7.
Additionally, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is in the process of updating its NEPA implementing regulations. CEQ has solicited public comments on recommended revisions to the regulations to promote a more efficient, timely, and effective process.
The environmental permitting process and requirements continue to evolve for all major infrastructure projects, requiring close monitoring to be able to effectively and efficiently navigate the changes. ICF’s team of environmental permitting experts keep a constant finger on the pulse of these changes and will provide updates as they are available. If you have questions on these or other offshore wind topics, we encourage you to reach out to our team and ask.