Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Michael Knisley voiced support for streamlined federal permitting via permanent FAST -41 legislation.

Credit: Kate Knisley

The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held hearings on “Oversight of Federal Infrastructure Permitting and FAST-41” this morning (May 2, 2019).

Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, co-sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in 2015, provides for the modernization of the permitting process for federal infrastructure projects and established a Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council. Today’s hearing centered on Sen. Portman’s Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, which would make FAST-41 permanent, apply FAST-41 to more projects, set a 2-year permitting goal, and expand the Permitting Council’s consulting authority.

“On behalf of the 100,000 union construction workers in Ohio that I proudly represent, I am pleased to have the opportunity to appear before this committee to testify on the outcomes of FAST-41 and its benefits to the Ohio construction industry and those regions in our state which depend on much-needed infrastructure projects for their economic survival,” said Knisley.

Knisley’s testimony included an overview of the permitting process for two major infrastructure projects in Ohio: The Nexus Enbridge Pipeline and the American Municipal Power R.C. Byrd Hydropower development. Before becoming a FAST-41 project, the R.C. Byrd development was mired in a decade-long, conflicted process across multiple federal agencies.

“Through FAST-41, you have created the imperative for federal agencies to be agile and responsive to the needs of our businesses, workers, and communities. To the degree that you can strengthen and expand FAST-41 you will have removed significant barriers to the infrastructure development projects that are a primary driver of our local, state, and national economies.”

Watch / read Knisley’s full Senate testimony.

Credit: Kate Knisley)