FAST Act Expedites Permitting and Environmental Review for Large Infrastructure Projects
Expedited permitting and environmental review for complex infrastructure projects may soon be a reality. Buried at the end of its most recent transportation reauthorization package (the “FAST Act” or “Act”) is a significant new initiative intended to fundamentally change the way that federal agencies evaluate environmental impacts from, and issue permits for, construction of large infrastructure projects. 
National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) review and environmental permitting for complex infrastructure projects can be costly and protracted. For instance, a U.S. Government Accountability Office Report stated that the average completion time for an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) in 2012 was 4.6 years.  Between 2003 and 2012, the Department of Energy paid contractors an average fee of $6.6 million, and as much as $85 million, to prepare EISs.  The cost to prepare an EIS is often borne by project sponsors. Some transportation and water resources projects currently benefit from expedited permitting and environmental review procedures,  but the FAST Act is the first time that Congress has attempted to coordinate NEPA review across federal agencies and industry sectors.