The FAST Act includes a number of changes to Federal law intended to streamline the environmental review process for many transportation projects across the Federal Government.
Specifically, the FAST Act:
- Extends the environmental review process that applies to highways and public transportation to railroad and multimodal projects. The Act provides the Secretary with the authority to extend the highway environmental review provisions (23 U.S.C. 139) to some rail and multimodal projects.
- Codifies the Every Day Counts initiative. The FAST Act codifies the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) “Every Day Counts” initiative that helps identify, accelerate, and deploy proven innovations that shorten the project delivery process and improve environmental sustainability.
- Allows greater use of funds for permitting improvements. The FAST Act enables any public entity receiving surface transportation funding to make funds available to Federal agencies, State agencies, and Indian Tribes to support activities that improve the permitting and review processes.
- Improves early and substantive engagement among agencies during the environmental review process. The Act clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the different Federal agencies involved in the environmental review process and sets up a checklist to help project sponsors to identify the environmental issues in the project area and the agencies with jurisdiction for affected natural, cultural and historic resources. Please click here to access the Checklist of Environmental Requirements and Resources.
- Expands a public Dashboard to provide transparency to the review of transportation projects. The Act requires an online platform to make publicly available the status and progress of a broader variety of projects undergoing environmental review, including projects receiving innovative financing.
- Reduces duplicative reviews and adds additional optional process. The Act extends an exemption under which environmental review of post-1950 concrete bridges can be addressed as a group instead of requiring individual review.
- Expedites environmental review for reconstruction in the aftermath an emergency. The Act emphasizes the use of exemptions and expedited processes for environmental review and consultation for the reconstruction of road, highway, railway, bridge, or transit facilities damaged by an emergency if the reconstruction is in the same location with same capacity, dimensions, and design as before the emergency.
- State Pilot Project on NEPA. The Act establishes a pilot program to allow up to five States that have assumed Federal responsibility for the National Environmental Policy Act review process to use their State laws and regulations to conduct environmental reviews and approve projects.