Representative John Curtis introduced the Rural Broadband Permitting Efficiency Act of 2018 (HR 4824) on January 18th. The proposed legislation is aimed at helping streamline federal siting by allowing states to partner with federal agencies to decrease processing times. John Curtis said that “Every student, small business and parent should have reliable access to broadband. It is an essential toll that Utahns and communities across America should be able to access. By reducing government interference and empowering states to speed up the process of bringing broadband to communities it will make it quicker and cheaper to install.”
The Act will not only help empower states to speed up the process of bringing broadband to rural communities, it will make it quicker and cheaper to install broadband, and help economic development in rural communities. The bill will delegate federal environmental compliance to the states which will allow them to opt-in an agreement to take on the responsibility of environment review. The bill will designate a lead agency in the federal permitting process which will help consolidate efforts from the executive branch and create a single point of contact for a given broadband deployment project, intending to drive efficiencies into the permitting process. It will also allow economic development in rural areas to catch up.
The bill has been cosponsored by nine members of Congress including:
- Congressman Scott Tipton who represents the third district of Colorado. He endorses this bill for rural communities in Colorado exclaiming “(to have) access to reliable and fast broadband is critical to the success of every American family, student and small business.”
- Congressman Paul Gosar, a representative of Arizona, states “basic services like broadband internet represent the minimum of what is necessary to participate in the 21st century American Dream.”
The bill has also been endorsed by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and other advocates for Rural Broadband. Derrick Owens, the Senior Vice President of Government & Industry Affairs for WTA, welcomed this overdue bill as well saying that “every dollar spent on duplicate environmental reviews is one less dollar available for investment in a robust broadband network.”