Washington, D.C. — A new report commissioned by the Center for American Progress shows how public engagement and environmental review have worked to improve infrastructure projects, not slow them down.
The report examines the National Environmental Policy Act’s (NEPA) permitting process through the lens of five successful renewable energy and transmission projects. It analyzes how they proceeded through the NEPA process and identifies best practices.
These examples show how successful completion of a project often requires more focus on how communities can benefit from the project rather than how fast agencies move paperwork. When done right, the report finds that NEPA creates opportunities to address conflicts that could otherwise stymie projects, helping identify improvements that benefit all sides.
A column that accompanies the report summarizes its findings and recommendations:
- The absence of opposition to a major infrastructure project is an unrealistic standard of success. Real trade-offs must be examined, and conflicts must be expected and managed.
- Early and effective engagement with all stakeholders can help avoid delays in the project life cycle.
- Methods of engagement are not one-size-fits-all and should be addressed community by community.
- The traditional ecological knowledge and special expertise of Tribal leader should be used throughout the NEPA process.
- Community benefits agreements and other forms of compensatory mitigation can benefit both affected communities and project developers.
The projects analyzed in the report include:
- Ten West Link, a 125-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission project running across Arizona and California
- Vineyard Wind 1, an offshore wind farm currently in development off the coast of Massachusetts
- Gemini Solar, a 690-megawatt (MW) integrated solar photovoltaic and battery storage facility sited on roughly 6,000 acres of federal land near Las Vegas
- South Fork Wind, a 130-MW utility-scale offshore wind farm project off the coast of Rhode Island
- SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, a wind and transmission project aimed at producing wind energy in New Mexico.
Read the report: “NEPA Permitting Process Crucial to Renewable Infrastructure Project Success” by Edward (Ted) Boling and Kerensa Gimre
Read the column: “5 Major Renewable Infrastructure Projects Show Value of NEPA Permitting Process” by Auburn Bell
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at firstname.lastname@example.org.