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                                                      Calendar No. 193
114th Congress     }                                    {       Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session       }                                    {      114-113
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                     


               FEDERAL PERMITTING IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2015

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND

                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                 S. 280

         TO IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY, MANAGEMENT, AND INTERAGENCY
             COORDINATION OF THE FEDERAL PERMITTING PROCESS
            THROUGH REFORMS OVERSEEN BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE
        OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


                 August 4, 2015.--Ordered to be printed
                 
                                  ______

                         U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE 

49-010                         WASHINGTON : 2015                  
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
        COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                    RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona                 THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio                    CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
RAND PAUL, Kentucky                  JON TESTER, Montana
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming             HEIDI HEITKAMP, North Dakota
KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire          CORY A. BOOKER, New Jersey
JONI ERNST, Iowa                     GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
BEN SASSE, Nebraska

                    Keith B. Ashdown, Staff Director
                  Christopher R. Hixon, Chief Counsel
                   Sayta P. Thallam, Chief Economist
              Gabrielle A. Batkin, Minority Staff Director
           John P. Kilvington, Minority Deputy Staff Director
               Mary Beth Schultz, Minority Chief Counsel
             Katherine C. Sybenga, Minority Senior Counsel
                     Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                                                      Calendar No. 193
114th Congress     }                                    {       Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session       }                                    {      114-113

======================================================================



 
               FEDERAL PERMITTING IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2015

                                _______
                                

                 August 4, 2015.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Johnson, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 280]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 280) to improve the 
efficiency, management, and interagency coordination of the 
Federal permitting process through reforms overseen by the 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
with an amendment and an amendment to the title and recommends 
that the bill, as amended, do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................2
III. Legislative History..............................................3
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................4
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................8
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................8
VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported...........11

                         I. PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    S. 280, the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, seeks to 
make more efficient the process for federal approval for major 
infrastructure projects. It would create a council composed of 
the relevant permitting agencies to establish best practices 
and model timelines for review, designate individuals within 
agencies with primary responsibility for coordinating reviews 
and agency decisions, and shorten the time in which challenges 
can be made to final decisions.

              II. BACKGROUND AND THE NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    In the World Bank's most recent Doing Business report, the 
United States ranked 41st in the category of ``Dealing with 
Construction Permits'' (11th among Organization for Economic 
Co-operation and Development high income countries).\1\ 
Businesses seeking to undertake major capital projects often 
must run the gauntlet of numerous separate agency reviews and 
approvals.\2\ That process is plagued by a lack of 
coordination, few deadlines, insufficient transparency, and 
litigation exposure for up to six years after securing required 
approvals.\3\ State and local governments face the same 
obstacles when they seek federal permits for infrastructure 
projects.\4\ The resulting uncertainty surrounding major 
projects makes new construction and investments less attractive 
and hinders job creation.\5\ Several recent reports have 
highlighted the need for modernization of the permitting 
process, including reports from the President's Jobs 
Council,\6\ the Business Roundtable,\7\ and the U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\World Bank Group, Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency 
(12th ed., 2014), available at http://www.doingbusiness.org/reports/
global-reports/doing-business-2015. This indicator is a composite of 
the number of procedures required, the number of days, and cost.
    \2\For instance, the number of permits and reviews for a pipeline 
project can be up to 15 across eight agencies. The number of permits 
and reviews for transmission line projects is 17. See Permitting 
Dashboard, Federal Permitting and Review Inventory, http://www.permits
.performance.gov/permit-inventory (last visited June 10, 2015).
    \3\Challenges under the National Environmental Policy Act are 
generally done under the Administrative Procedure Act, which currently 
applies the general statute of limitation on claims of six years. See 
28 U.S.C. Sec. 2401.
    \4\``As major infrastructure projects are proposed, state, local, 
and tribal entities work to consider and minimize potential impacts on 
safety and security, and environmental and community resources such as 
air, water, land, and historical and cultural resources . . . for 
particularly large and complex infrastructure projects, multiple 
permits and approvals can lead inefficiencies [sic] and delay.'' The 
White House, FACT SHEET--Building a 21st Century Infrastructure: 
Modernizing Infrastructure Permitting, Office of the Press Secretary 
(May 14, 2014), https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/05/14/
fact-sheet-building-21st-century-infrastructure-modernizing-
infrastructu.
    \5\The longer a project takes to arrive at its income-producing 
phase, the more its eventual flow of income must be discounted (to 
account for the time value of money). Where that length of time to 
completion is unknown or indeterminate, this manifests in the capital 
budgeting formula as an increase in risk, and requires a higher 
expected return to compensate for that risk (risk premium). In other 
words, higher risk results in an effectively more expensive project.
    \6\President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Road Map to 
Renewal, 2011 Year-End Report, 28-30, 42-44 (Jan. 9, 2012), http://
files.jobs-council.com/files/2012/01/JobsCouncil_
2011YearEndReportWeb.pdf.
    \7\Business Roundtable, Permitting Jobs and Business Investment: 
Streamlining the Federal Permitting Process (Apr. 24, 2012), available 
at http://businessroundtable.org/resources/permitting-jobs-and-
business-investment.
    \8\Steve Pociask and Joseph P. Fuhr, Jr., Project No Project, 
Progress Denied: A Study on the Potential Economic Impact of Permitting 
Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects, (Mar. 10, 2011), available 
at http://www.projectnoproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/PNP_
EconomicStudy.pdf. ``In the 40 years since the passage of the National 
Environmental Policy Act and the development of the current federal 
regulatory process, the practice of completing environmental reviews 
for major infrastructure projects has significantly lengthened average 
project delivery times. For example, in 2011, the average time it took 
to complete an environmental impact statement on a highway project was 
over eight years, compared with two years just after the law was 
passed.'' See Petra Todorovich and Daniel Schned, Getting 
Infrastructure Going: Expediting the Environmental Review Process, 3 
(2012), available at http://www.rpa.org/library/pdf/RPA-Getting-
Infrastructure-Going.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Two bipartisan transportation bills (in 2006 and 2012) 
contained permit streamlining reforms in the same spirit as S. 
280, but with application to a narrower category of 
projects.\9\ This bill also incorporates and addresses 
recommendations from the President's Council on Jobs and 
Competitiveness and other recent studies on this issue.\10\ The 
bill would improve the permitting process for major capital 
projects in three ways: better coordination and deadline-
setting for permitting decisions; enhanced transparency; and 
reduced uncertainty owing to reduced litigation risk. The bill 
is limited to economically significant capital projects, 
defined based on the size of the expected total investment 
(more than $200 million). The bill covers major capital 
projects across sectors, including renewable or conventional 
energy production, electricity transmission, aviation, ports 
and waterways, broadband, pipelines, and manufacturing.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\See, e.g., Pub. L. No 112-141, Subtitle C.
    \10\ See, e.g., Jobs Council Recommendations, Enhance American 
Competitiveness Through Smart Regulatory Reform, http://files.jobs-
council.com/files/2012/01/JC_FactSheet_
Regulation1.pdf (last visited July 30, 2015); Jobs Council 
Recommendations, Simplify Regulatory Review and Streamline Project 
Approvals, http://files.jobs-council.com/files/2011/10/
JobsCouncil_Regulatory.pdf (last visited July 30, 2015); and 
Presidential Memorandum--Speeding Infrastructure Development through 
More Efficient and Effective Permitting and Environmental Review, the 
White House Office of the Press Secretary (Aug. 31, 2011), https://
www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/31/presidential-memorandum-
speeding-infrastructure-development-through-more.
    \11\Surface transportation projects under 23 U.S.C. Sec. 139 and 
water resource projects under 33 U.S.C. Sec. 2348 are specifically 
exempt from the provisions of this bill.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The bill also builds on and makes permanent the new permit 
streamlining portal launched by the Obama Administration in 
2012 through Executive Order 13604.\12\ The bill does not alter 
substantive standards or safeguards, but instead seeks to 
create a smarter, more transparent, better-managed process for 
government review and approval of major capital projects.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\See Federal Infrastructure Projects, 
www.permits.performance.gov (last visited June 7, 2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        III. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    Senator Portman introduced S. 280 on January 28, 2015. The 
bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs. The Committee considered S. 280 at a 
business meeting on May 6, 2015.
    During the business meeting, Senator Portman offered a 
substitute amendment, as modified, reflecting numerous changes 
to the operational structure of the provisions in the 
legislation, including changes to the role played by the Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB) and a change to the statute of 
limitations for challenges to agency permitting decisions from 
150 days to two years. The substitute amendment, as modified, 
was adopted by unanimous consent with Senators Johnson, McCain, 
Portman, Lankford, Ayotte, Ernst, Sasse, Carper, McCaskill, 
Tester, Baldwin, Heitkamp, and Peters present.
    Senator Portman offered five other amendments during the 
business meeting. The first amendment changed the official 
title of the bill. The second amendment clarified that the 
Director of OMB must consult with the Chairman of the Council 
of Environmental Quality in resolving disputes. The third 
amendment clarified that state documents adopted as federal 
environmental reviews or incorporated into such reviews must 
have been prepared under circumstances that allow for public 
participation and consideration of alternatives that 
aresubstantially equivalent to the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA). The fourth amendment made changes to the maximum time period 
for comments in the event that state documents are adopted or 
incorporated and need to be supplemented. The fifth amendment clarified 
that the statute of limitations runs from the date of publication in 
the Federal Register of the final record of decision or approval or 
denial of a permit, rather than publication of notice of such decision. 
All five amendments were adopted en bloc by voice vote on May 6, 2015, 
with Senators Johnson, McCain, Portman, Lankford, Ayotte, Ernst, Sasse, 
Carper, McCaskill, Tester, Baldwin, Heitkamp, and Peters present.
    The Committee ordered S. 280, as amended, reported 
favorably by roll call vote on May 6, 2015, with 12 yeas to 1 
nay. Senators voting in the affirmative were Senators Johnson, 
McCain, Portman, Lankford, Ernst, Sasse, Carper, McCaskill, 
Tester, Baldwin, Heitkamp, and Peters. The Senator voting in 
the negative was Senator Ayotte.

        IV. SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE BILL, AS REPORTED

Section 1. Short title

    This section provides the bill's short title, the ``Federal 
Permitting Improvement Act of 2015.''

Section 2. Definitions

    This section provides several definitions, including for 
the following terms: ``agency'', ``agency CERPO'', 
``authorization'', ``cooperating agency'', ``Council'', 
``covered project'', ``Dashboard'', ``environmental 
assessment'', ``environmental document'', ``environmental 
impact statement'', ``environmental review'', ``Executive 
Director'', ``facilitating agency'', ``inventory'', ``lead 
agency'', ``NEPA'', ``participating agency'', ``and ``project 
sponsor''.

Section 3. Federal Permitting Improvement Council

    Subsection (a) establishes the Federal Permiting 
Improvement Steering Council.
    Subsection (b) stipulates the composition of the Council. 
The Executive Director, appointed by the President, shall serve 
as Chair. Other Council members will be designated by the heads 
of the following agencies, departments, and councils: 
Agriculture; Army; Commerce; Interior; Energy; Transportation; 
Defense; Environmental Protection Agency; Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Homeland 
Security; Housing and Urban Development; Advisory Council on 
Historic Preservation; and other agencies as invited by the 
Executive Director. The Chairman of the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Director of OMB shall also 
be members of the Council. The above listed heads of agencies 
shall also designate individuals within their agency to serve 
as agency Chief Environmental Review and Permitting Officers 
(CERPOs) and report directly to a deputy secretary (or 
equivalent).
    Subsection (c) establishes duties. The Executive Director 
shall be responsible, in consultation with the Council, for 
establishing and updating an inventory of covered projects, 
designating a facilitating agency for each project in the 
inventory, and publishing this information in the Dashboard 
established under subsection (b)(2)(A). Within a year the 
Executive Director will develop categorical nonbinding 
performance schedules for reviews and authorizations, and these 
performance schedules will be revised bi-annually. The 
Executive Director may also make recommendations to the 
Director of OMB and CEQ on issuing guidance to agencies on best 
practices.
    In addition to consultation responsibilities related to the 
Executive Director's duties as stated above, the Council shall 
within one year, and annually thereafter, make recommendations 
on best practices for enhancing and improving: stakeholder 
engagement; timely decisionmaking; coordination between Federal 
and non-federal governmental entities; information collection; 
transparency; availability of geographic data to applicants; 
training materials for government officials; and other issues 
as determined by the Council.
    Agency CERPOs act as advisors to their respective agency 
councilmembers, provide technical expertise and support within 
the agency to improve processes and provide internal and inter-
agency dispute resolution, make recommendations on best 
practices, and develop training programs for agency staff. They 
will also work with the Executive Director and the project 
sponsor to mediate permitting timetable disputes. The Director 
of OMB will act as final facilitator of a resolution of the 
dispute (though not direct a resolution) if it remains after 30 
days.
    Subsection (d) requires the Director of OMB to designate a 
Federal agency to provide administrative support and staff for 
the Executive Director.

Section 4. Permitting Process Improvement

    Subsection (a) describes the process of initiating a 
project review, designation of facilitating, participating, 
cooperating, and leading agencies, contents of a project 
notice, publication of project information to the Dashboard, 
and dispute resolution.
    Subsection (b) provides a detailed description of and 
requirements for the Dashboard, with responsibilities and 
deadlines for the various entities involved. The Dashboard will 
be an on-line database tracking permitting reviews required for 
projects.
    Subsection (c) describes the requirement for a Coordinated 
Project Plan, including a deadline for posting a project entry 
on the Dashboard. The Coordinated Project Plan will include, 
among other items, a permitting timetable developed by the 
facilitating or lead agency in consultation with the project 
sponsor, cooperating and participating agencies, and any 
applicable state. The Executive Director will initially mediate 
any disputes regarding the permitting timetable. If a dispute 
remains unresolved after 30 days, the Director of OMB will 
resolve the dispute. This subsection also contains provisions 
addressing modifications to a permitting timetable, 
responsibilities of agencies to conform to the timetable, the 
process for handling a covered project that is later abandoned.
    Finally, the subsection requires coordination where 
possible with state, local, and tribal authorities. Any 
coordination plan shall be included in a memorandum of 
understanding and submitted to the Executive Director.
    Subsection (d) requires where applicable an early 
consultation process between the project sponsor and any 
cooperating and participating agencies.
    Subsection (e) describes the designation and definition of 
a cooperating agency.

Section 5. Interstate Compacts

    Subsection (a) provides Congressional consent for three or 
more contiguous states to enter into an interstate compact 
establishing regional infrastructure development agencies to 
facilitate authorization and review of covered projects.
    Subsection (b) defines the authority of a regional 
infrastructure development agency.

Section 6. Coordination of Required Reviews

    Subsection (a) directs agencies to carry out obligations 
concurrently and in conjunction with environmental reviews and 
authorizations being conducted by other agencies.
    Subsection (b) outlines the adoption, incorporation by 
reference, and use of documents. Project sponsors may request 
that the lead agency consider adoption or incorporation by 
reference of analysis and documentation prepared under State 
laws. In consultation with CEQ, the lead can consider such 
analysis or documentation for inclusion in a required 
environmental review if it was prepared in such a way to allow 
public participation and consideration of alternatives 
substantially equivalent to requirements pursuant to the 
NEPA.\13\ The lead agency will need to supplement adopted or 
incorporated documentation if sufficient changes in 
circumstances or the project have have occurred since the 
analysis. Any supplemental documents require a public comment 
period of up to 45 days (with allowable extensions).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \13\42 U.S.C. Sec. 4321, et seq.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subsection (c) requires the lead agency to engage early in 
the environmental review process with cooperating agencies to 
determine the range of alternatives to be considered for 
analysis. This will include developing the range of 
alternatives, determining the methodologies to be used, and 
identifying--with the concurrence of cooperating agencies--a 
preferred alternative to be developed to a higher level of 
detail.
    Subsection (d) stipulates the comment period for a draft 
environmental impact statement will be between 45 and 60 days, 
with allowable extensions. For other comment periods in the 
environmental review process the length will be up to 45 days, 
with allowable extensions.
    Subsection (e) directs agencies to work together to resolve 
issues that could delay review or approval. The lead agency is 
responsible for sharing information on the environmental, 
historicand socioeconomic resources in the proposed project 
area as well as alternative locations under consideration with other 
agencies and project sponsors.
    Subsection (f) applies this section to individual covered 
projects or a category of covered projects.

Section 7. Delegated State Permitting Programs

    Subsection (a) outlines the process whereby federal 
agencies with delegation authority will initiate a process with 
public input to determine whether and when best practices, as 
established by the Council, are appropriate and applicable. 
Within two years, agencies will make model recommendations to 
state permitting programs.
    Subsection (b) allows lead and cooperating agencies to 
share with and receive input from state, local, and tribal 
authorities on best practices for project review.

Section 8. Litigation, Judicial Review, and Savings Provision

    Subsection (a) establishes the statute of limitations on 
judicial challenges to an authorization of a covered project by 
an agency to no more than two years after the date of 
publication in the Federal Register of the final record of 
decision or approval or denial. If the challenge relates to an 
environmental review under NEPA, the challenge must be filed by 
a party that submitted a comment during review process or 
lacked an opportunity to do so, and must relate to an issue 
raised during the comment period. New information received 
after a comment period may be considered under certain 
circumstances and if preparation of a new document is required, 
this would constitute a separate two-year period in which to 
challenge.
    Subsection (b) describes factors for consideration by 
courts in cases seeking preliminary injunctive relief and 
states that the court shall consider public health, safety, 
environmental, job and economic impacts of injunction and shall 
not presume these harms are reparable.
    Subsection (c) clarifies that except in subsection (a), 
nothing in this bill affects reviewability of final agency 
actions.
    Subsection (d) states that nothing in this bill supercedes, 
amends, or modifies any federal statute or affects the 
responsibility of any federal officer to comply with or enforce 
any statute, or creates a presumption that a covered project 
will be approved or favorably reviewed by an agency.
    Subsection (e) clarifies that this section will not 
preempt, limit, or interfere with any public comment practice 
or any existing power or authority of agencies (federal, state, 
local, tribal) or tribal sponsor.

Section 9. Report to Congress

    Subsection (a) requires an annual report to Congress from 
the Executive Director describing permitting improvements 
resulting from this bill. The requirement lasts for ten years.
    Subsection (b) requires the report to assess the 
performance of each participating agency.
    Subsection (c) allows Council members to include comments 
on agency performance.

Section 10. Funding for Governance, Oversight, and Processing of 
        Environmental Reviews and Permits

    Subsection (a) allows relevant agencies, via a notice-and-
comment process, to issue regulations establishing a user fee 
for permitting.
    Subsection (b) defines ``reasonable costs'' as including 
costs for implementing requirements under Sections 3 and 4.
    Subsection (c) establishes requirements for the fee 
structures: it requires input from stakeholders, excludes 
parties for which the fee would pose an undue burden, and 
should be structured in such a way as to collect up to 20 
percent of the estimated annual fiscal year costs.
    Subsection (d) establishes the ``Environmental Review 
Improvement Fund'' in which the fees will be deposited and 
makes the fund available to the Executive Director for 
administration of this bill, or with approval of the Director 
of OMB for transfer to other agencies.
    Subsection (e) states the use of funds resulting from the 
fee establishment regulations will not influence decision-
making with respect to reviews.
    Subsection (f) allows further transfer of funds among 
agencies to aid implementation of this bill.

Section 11. Application

    Applies the bill to projects for which a notice is filed 
under section 4(a)(1) or that is pending 90 days after 
enactment.

                   V. EVALUATION OF REGULATORY IMPACT

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill and determined 
that the bill will have no regulatory impact within the meaning 
of the rules. The Committee agrees with the Congressional 
Budget Office's statement that the bill would impose 
intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act (UMRA) but would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments.
    The Committee notes that while the Congressional Budget 
Office states that S. 280 ``would impose private-sector 
mandates . . . on sponsors of large construction projects that 
require authorization or environmental review by a federal 
agency,'' the bill would not require the project sponsor to 
notify federal government agencies beyond current requirements. 
Additionally, project sponsors would only be subject to newly 
authorized ``fees to cover some of the costs of administering 
federal permits and project reviews'' on a voluntary basis for 
sponsors seeking consideration under the expedited review 
process described in the bill.

             VI. CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

                                                     July 28, 2015.
Hon. Ron Johnson,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. 
        Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 280, the Federal 
Permitting Improvement Act of 2015.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew 
Pickford.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

S. 280--Federal Permitting Improvement Act of 2015

    Summary: S. 280 would establish the Federal Permitting 
Improvement Council to monitor and coordinate the schedules and 
activities of federal agencies involved in the review, 
approval, permitting, or planning of certain federal or 
nonfederal infrastructure construction projects.
    Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing S. 280 would cost $125 million over 
the 2016-2020 period, primarily for the staffing and activities 
of the new council. Because the bill could affect direct 
spending, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, CBO 
estimates that any changes in direct spending would be 
insignificant. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues.
    S. 280 would impose intergovernmental and private-sector 
mandates, as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
(UMRA), on sponsors of large construction projects that require 
authorization or environmental review by a federal agency. The 
bill would require those sponsors to notify the council and the 
facilitating federal agency when initiating a proposed project. 
The bill also would authorize federal agencies to charge 
project sponsors fees to cover some of the costs of 
administering federal permits and project reviews. To the 
extent that federal agencies would collect those fees, the bill 
would impose a mandate on public and private project sponsors. 
Based on information from the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) and potential project sponsors, CBO estimates that the 
cost to comply with the mandates would fall below the annual 
thresholds for intergovernmental and private-sector mandates 
established in UMRA ($77 million and $154 million in 2015, 
respectively, adjusted annually for inflation).
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary effect of S. 280 is shown in the following table. The 
costs of this legislation would fall primarily within budget 
function 800 (general government).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                         -------------------------------------------------------
                                                            2016     2017     2018     2019     2020   2016-2020
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 
Estimated Authorization Level...........................       20       25       30       30       30       135
Estimated Outlays.......................................       15       20       30       30       30       125
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that S. 
280 will be enacted late in fiscal year 2015 and that spending 
will follow historical patterns for similar activities.

Changes in spending subject to appropriation

    S. 280 would establish a council to coordinate the issuance 
of federal environmental reviews, licenses, permits, and other 
administrative decisions needed to implement certain 
infrastructure projects. The council would expand on Executive 
Order 13604, Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and 
Review of Infrastructure Projects (issued in 2012), with an aim 
to streamline the federal approval process for certain 
construction projects involving expenditures of more than $200 
million.
    The Federal Permitting Improvement Council would consist of 
representatives from 13 participating departments and agencies. 
The council would have an Executive Director appointed by the 
President, who would serve as chair of the council. The primary 
responsibilities of the council would be to oversee and 
coordinate the completion of federal reviews and the 
administrative decision-making process required for certain 
infrastructure projects to proceed. The council would maintain 
an online database to track the progress of the projects, 
designate a lead federal agency for each project, set review 
schedules for agencies to perform their work, and issue 
recommendations on best practices for such work.
    Information from OMB indicates that the council would 
coordinate the federal review of 200 to 300 projects each year. 
That level of effort would be considerably larger than the 28 
active projects and 33 completed projects listed on the current 
Permitting Dashboard ofFederal Infrastructure Projects (http://
www.permits
.performance.gov/), which was established through a Presidential 
Memorandum to coordinate the federal permitting process. If the council 
coordinated the work of fewer projects each year, its annual costs 
would be lower.
    Under the bill the council would become involved with 
construction projects involving expenditures greater than $200 
million, including energy production and transmission; surface, 
air, and water transportation; or other types as determined by 
the council. The council would be authorized to work with 
projects of a size and complexity that would be likely to 
benefit from its enhanced oversight and coordination. Under the 
bill, projects requiring an environmental review by the 
Secretary of Transportation would be exempt from the council's 
work, as would water resource projects managed by the U.S. 
Corps of Engineers.
    Based on information about the scope of the council's 
involvement, CBO estimates that when fully implemented the 
council would spend about $30 million annually. The council's 
employees would work from a headquarters office and satellite 
offices across the country. The council would have about 70 
employees. Most of the council's employees would be assigned to 
work in those agencies with the largest administrative 
workloads related to the review of infrastructure projects, 
others would probably be assigned to travel to the sites of 
such infrastructure projects, and some employees would help the 
council to identify best administrative review practices and 
track agencies' schedules and progress.

Changes in direct spending

    Section 10 would authorize agencies working with the 
council to collect fees from sponsors of infrastructure 
projects to offset up to 20 percent of the reasonable costs 
involved in conducting environmental reviews and completing 
other administrative decisions related to those projects. Any 
fees collected would be deposited into the proposed 
Environmental Review and Permitting Improvement Fund and would 
be available for use by the council and the relevant agencies 
without further appropriation. Collecting and spending such 
fees would have no net budgetary effect.
    CBO expects that the authority to collect and spend fees 
provided in S. 280 would not significantly reduce the cost--
which is subject to appropriation--of implementing the 
legislation. Some of the projects coordinated by the council 
would probably be federally sponsored projects, and collecting 
fees from one federal agency that would be spent by another 
would not reduce costs. Further, many federal agencies already 
have broad authorities to charge fees from the public when they 
are providing specific identifiable services or goods. It is 
unclear whether or how S. 280 would augment that authority. 
Finally, some federal agencies, notably the Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
collect fees from the industries that they regulate to offset 
their annual budgets. In those situations, the agencies could 
not charge additional fees under S. 280, but any additional 
funds appropriated for them to complete work under S. 280 would 
be offset by fees.
    Pay-As-You-Go considerations: The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go 
Act of 2010 establishes budget-reporting and enforcement 
procedures for legislation affecting direct spending or 
revenues. CBO estimates that any net change in direct spending 
under S. 280 would not be significant over the 2016-2025 
period.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 280 would 
impose intergovernmental and private-sector mandates, as 
defined in UMRA, on sponsors of large construction projects 
that require authorization or environmental review by a federal 
agency. Large projects are those expected to exceed $200 
million in total capital investment. The bill would require 
project sponsors seeking a federal permit to submit a notice to 
the council and to a lead federal agency when initiating a 
proposed project. The notice would have to include a statement 
of the project's purpose, information about its location, 
technical parameters, and costs, and a listing of federal 
authorizations or reviews that the sponsor anticipates will be 
necessary. The bill also would authorize federal agencies to 
charge project sponsors fees to cover some of the costs of 
administering federal permits and reviews. To the extent that 
federal agencies would collect those fees, the duty to pay 
those fees would be a mandate on public and private project 
sponsors. Based on information from OMB about the projected 
number of covered projects, the cost to review those projects, 
and feedback from potential project sponsors about the cost of 
providing data, CBO estimates that the aggregate costs to 
comply with the mandates would fall below the annual thresholds 
for intergovernmental and private-sector mandates established 
in UMRA ($77 million and $154 million in 2015, respectively, 
adjusted annually for inflation).
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Matthew Pickford; 
Impact on state, local, and tribal governments: Jon Sperl; 
Impact on the private sector: Paige Piper/Bach.
    Estimate approved by: H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

       VII. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    Because this legislation would not repeal or amend any 
provision of current law, it would make no changes in existing 
law within the meaning of clauses (a) and (b) of paragraph 12 
of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

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