This Permit Reform Already Works. Why Aren't More Mining Projects Using It?

June 2023
ELR 10463
Jamie Pleune and Edward Boling

In January 2021, the mining sector was made eligible for coverage under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41) program, a pilot project designed to expedite federal permitting. Although mining projects have been eligible for over two years, only recently was the first one posted on the Permitting Dashboard. This Article explains the structural provisions of the FAST-41 program; describes performance data from FAST-41 projects completed during the past five years, concluding that the Act’s procedures promote efficiency, transparency, and predictability; explores common causes of delay, with a focus on mine permit processing; and addresses agency capacity challenges at the Bureau of Land Management. It concludes that the FAST-41 process is well-situated to expedite mine permitting without compromising public engagement, analytical rigor, or environmental protections.

Jamie Pleune is an Associate Professor of Law (Research) and Wallace Stegner Center Fellow at the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law. Edward (Ted) Boling is a Partner at Perkins Coie LLP.

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