This week, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council) convened agency officials and professionals from the environmental and information technology sectors to discuss how software and other tools can deliver more effective and efficient environmental reviews. The first-ever Environmental Permitting Technology and Data Summit was held on Tuesday at the White House and the headquarters of the General Services Administration.
To meet President Biden’s historic clean energy and infrastructure goals, a core component of Bidenomics, the Biden-Harris Administration is undertaking an all-of-government effort to accelerate federal permitting while ensuring strong environmental protections and robust community engagement. The summit brought together federal and state agency staff, non-profits, academia, and industry leaders to inform CEQ’s E-NEPA study called for in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Summit participants also discussed innovative, successful software deployment for permitting processes within government agencies, the need for improved software to enable more effective and efficient environmental reviews, and next steps for the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to modernize the technology agencies use to conduct environmental reviews and other permitting processes.
As part of the summit, the Permitting Council announced it will make $25 million available from the Inflation Reduction Act to modernize permitting-related software and technology and spur innovation to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s permitting strategy. This funding announcement reflects the Administration’s commitment to ensuring that federal environmental reviews and permitting processes are effective, efficient, and transparent, guided by the best available science to promote positive environmental and community outcomes, and shaped by early and meaningful public engagement and input.
An opening plenary session laid out a vision for using technology and data to improve environmental reviews, and, in particular, highlighted two stories of the successful development of digital tools at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Participants attended breakout sessions on cybersecurity, implementation of shared services across federal agencies, funding and staffing of permitting software delivery initiatives, and technology’s role in more effective and efficient environmental reviews. Participants were also able to see demonstrations and learn more about the development and use of the following tools:
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Information for Planning and Consultation
- The Bureau of Land Management’s E-Planning
- The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Highway Administration’s Permitting Dashboard Application Programming Interface
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit
- Virginia’s Permitting Enhancement & Evaluation Platform (PEEP)
- Florida Department of Transportation’s Efficient Transportation Decision Making System
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Grant Environmental Assessment App
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Regulatory Request System and Regulatory In-lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System
- Washington State’s WISAARD: Washington Information System for Architectural and Archeological Records Data
- The University of Arizona’s NEPAccess project
- The White House Council on Environmental Quality’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool
- Wildfires.org TurboPlan
In the afternoon, Federal environmental officers and Chief Information Officers joined a roundtable conversation to discuss common challenges and explore solutions and opportunities to use digital tools to achieve effective and efficient environmental reviews and permitting.
Key participants in the Summit included:
- White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory
- White House Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation John Podesta
- White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu
- General Services Administration Administrator Robin Carnahan
- Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council Executive Director Eric Beightel
- Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Jason Miller
- Founder of Code for America and former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Pahlka
- Danish Environmental Protection Agency’s Deputy Director Lars Møller