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Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed a declaration of cooperation with Oregon and Washington to expedite the review and permitting of energy generation, power transmission and other infrastructure development in the Pacific Northwest.

According to the Department of the Interior (DOI), the agreement formally establishes a pilot Pacific Northwest Regional Infrastructure team to more efficiently coordinate the permitting processes for infrastructure projects - where both state and federal agencies have review responsibilities. This state-federal team will use a cross-agency and cross-jurisdictional strategy to identify siting conflicts and mitigation early in the development and permitting process.

The infrastructure team will focus on a variety of projects, including renewable energy generation, electricity transmission, broadband, pipelines, ports and waterways, and water resource development that are proposed in the states. The team will also be a forum for innovation in early identification of effective mitigation integrated across agencies as an important element of a successful integrated permitting strategy.

Building on a previous partnership model with California, the pilot Pacific Northwest Regional Infrastructure team and representatives from Oregon and Washington will identify joint policy priorities for renewable energy, establish a joint forum to resolve permitting and siting conflicts, and protect wildlife and cultural resources.

The DOI notes that Pacific Northwest states have already taken a number of steps to spur infrastructure investment and expedite their permitting processes. In Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber released a 10-year Energy Action Plan that outlines strategies to meet energy efficiency, renewable energy, greenhouse gas reduction and transportation objectives, with goals to enhance clean energy infrastructure development by removing finance and regulatory barriers.

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