Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Nine Federal Agencies Enter Into A MOU Regarding Transmission Siting On Federal Lands

Nine Federal Departments and Agencies recently released a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to make it faster and simpler to build transmission lines on Federal lands. The goal of the agreement is to speed approval of new transmission lines, reduce expense and uncertainty in the process, generate cost savings, increase accessibility to renewable energy and job creation.

The MOU has been signed by the 1) U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2) Department of Commerce, 3) Department of Defense, 4) Department of Energy, 5) Environmental Protection Agency, 6) Council on Environmental Quality, 7) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 8) Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and 9) Department of the Interior.

The agreement will cut approval time off the normal Federal permit process and help break down the barriers to siting new transmission lines by:
• Designating a single Federal point-of-contact for all Federal authorizations;
• Facilitating coordination and unified environmental documentation among project applicants, Federal Agencies, states, and tribes involved in the siting and permitting pocess;
• Establishing clear timelines for agency review and coordination; and
• Establishing a single consolidated environmental review and administrative record.
Instead of applicants going to multiple agencies, a single lead agency will coordinate all permits and approvals. The new process will keep applications on track by requiring agencies to set and meet clear deadline and improve transparency by creating a single record to be posted on line. The MOU does not alter the authority of any participating agencies, and all existing environmental reviews and safeguards are maintained fully. (ElectricNet, 11/4/09, Federal Departments and Agencies)

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