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Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects

Today, the Energy Department announced a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, a final rule for the Integrated Interagency Pre-Application (IIP) Process for electric grid transmission. This rule is an important step toward delivering on the President’s vision for modernizing the grid and spurring transmission development. It is intended to encourage early engagement with stakeholders in local, state and tribal communities on electric grid transmission projects. The overall goal of the IIP Process is to increase the efficiency of our ongoing grid modernization efforts.

The IIP process is intended to provide a roadmap and encourage early coordination between electric grid transmission project proponents and permitting agencies on transmission projects.  The IIP process, as proposed, is designed to improve interagency and intergovernmental coordination, to encourage early engagement with local, state and tribal stakeholders and to help ensure project proponents develop and submit accurate and complete information early in the project planning process.

The IIP process includes an initial and final Energy Department-facilitated meeting as well as provisions that would allow project proponents to engage early project information sharing and the development of an applicant-prepared environmental assessment intended to inform any subsequent environmental review by federal agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act.  The authority to issue this Final Rulemaking comes from DOE’s authority to coordinate the review of interstate electric transmission projects requiring multiple federal authorizations pursuant to section 216(h) of the Federal Power Act.

More information about the IIP is available at http://www.Regulations.gov.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Modernizing the nation's electric transmission grid requires improvements in how transmission lines are sited, permitted, and reviewed. As part of its efforts to improve the performance of Federal siting, permitting, and review processes for infrastructure development, the Administration created a Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT), a collaborative effort involving nine executive departments and agencies. The RRTT is working to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and predictability of transmission siting, permitting, and review processes, in part through increasing interagency coordination and transparency. An integrated pre-application process is one potential method to achieve these goals and to increase the predictability of the siting, permitting, and review processes.

On March 22, 2012, the President issued Executive Order 13604. “Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects” that directed all Federal agencies to “take all steps within their authority, consistent with available resources, to execute Federal permitting and review processes with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring the health, safety, and security of communities and the environment while supporting vital economic growth.” Following on that Order, the President issued a Memorandum on May 17, 2013 that discussed agency best practices identified as a result of Executive Order 13604. On June 7, 2013, the President issued another Memorandum directing Federal agencies to “develop an integrated, interagency pre-application process for significant onshore electric transmission projects requiring Federal approval.”

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, in collaboration with the Member Agencies of the Steering Committee (Member Agencies) created under Executive Order 13604 of March 22, 2012, and pursuant to the June 7, 2013 Transmission Presidential Memorandum, sought public input on a draft Integrated, Interagency Pre-Application (IIP) Process. The proposed IIP Process is intended to improve interagency and intergovernmental coordination focused on ensuring that project proponents develop and submit accurate and complete information early in the project planning process to facilitate efficient and timely environmental reviews and agency decisions.

A pre-publication version of the Final Rule Federal Register Notice is available here.