Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote a thriving economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy.
Unlock Business Investment: Modernize the Federal Permitting Process
Speeding federal permits will provide momentum for greater U.S. job creation and growth.
There is widespread, bipartisan agreement – from the President’s Jobs Council to the building trades unions – that improving the federal permitting process will help unlock investment, leading to economic growth and job creation.
Business Roundtable Recommendations
Under current law, most federal regulatory agencies are not required to make decisions on permits in a timely manner. Whether a permit is ultimately issued or not, the money dedicated to a project sits on the sidelines until a permit decision is made. By requiring agencies to make a decision to issue or deny a permit within 180 days, the government can spur businesses to move cash out of reserves and into the economy.
Often, companies are required to obtain permits from multiple federal agencies before work on a major project can begin. Currently, there is no requirement that agencies reviewing permit applications related to the same project work together to coordinate their reviews in a timely manner. The lack of coordination can result in duplication of effort and confusion. It can also result in long delays to projects. By designating one agency as having primary responsibility for coordinating permits for a project and requiring that permit applications processed by multiple agencies are done in parallel in an expedited fashion, it would be possible to more efficiently issue federal permits.
Even after federal agencies have issued permits, projects may be halted by outside groups who file suit. In some cases, suits may be brought as many as six years after a permit is issued, wreaking havoc in a construction process already underway. A more stringent process for judicial review of federal permits, including a 180-day statute of limitations, would create certainty and give businesses the confidence to begin work and commit to the expense of executing a permitted project.
A more transparent and open federal permitting process would allow applicants insight into the status of their projects and provide an opportunity for public input earlier in the permit review process. Developing a public, online permit-tracking dashboard that would detail the dates and status of all federal permit applications across agencies would create a more open system.