The Chairman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Implementing One Federal Decision (OFD), effective April 10, 2018. The MOU establishes a cooperative relationship with partner federal agencies to process environmental reviews and authorization decisions for Major Infrastructure Projects. Specifically, the MOU provides a framework for federal agencies to:
- Develop and maintain a Permitting Timetable of key milestones to complete environmental reviews and authorization decisions;
- Develop a single Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act; and
- Reduce the time for completing environmental reviews and authorization decisions to an average of two years from the publication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS or date on which an application is filed (when an NOI to prepare an EIS is issued in the pre-filing process).
In accordance with the MOU, Commission staff submitted an OFD Implementation Plan to the Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Management and Budget on July 9, 2018. The plan describes how staff will implement OFD for proposed hydropower and natural gas (interstate pipeline, storage, and liquefied natural gas) projects that qualify as Major Infrastructure Projects. Among other things, the plan includes comments to indicate how staff will implement specific MOU provisions (Attachment A) and flowcharts to highlight where major MOU provisions will occur in the Commission’s review processes (Attachments B and C).
Major Infrastructure Projects
Under OFD, Major Infrastructure Projects are defined as projects for which multiple authorizations by federal agencies will be required and the lead federal agency has determined that it will prepare an EIS. To qualify for processing under OFD, new infrastructure projects must also:
- For hydropower, have an NOI to prepare an EIS issued after August 15, 2017; or
- For natural gas, have an application filed after August 15, 2017 (when an NOI to prepare an EIS is issued in the pre-filing process).