REP. CURTIS INTRODUCES BILL TO STREAMLINE RURAL BROADBAND

January 18, 2018

Contact: Katie Thompson, Press Secretary

Phone: 202-870-6034

VIDEO EMBED: Watch Congressman Curtis drop the Rural Broadband Permitting Efficiency Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Representative John Curtis introduced the Rural Broadband Permitting Efficiency Act of 2018, HR 4824, a bill that will help economic development in rural communities.

“Every student, small business and parent should have reliable access to broadband. It is an essential tool that Utahns and communities across America should be able to access.” Curtis added, “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 Rural Broadband Permitting Efficiency Act helps rural communities by:

Empowering states to speed up the process of bringing broadband to rural communities. This bill delegates federal environmental compliance to the states, allowing them to opt-in to an agreement to take on the responsibility of environmental review.
Making it quicker and cheaper to install broadband. Designates a lead agency in the federal permitting process, regardless of whether a state opts-in to the “State Permitting Authority” agreement; This will consolidate efforts from the executive branch and create a single POC for a given broadband deployment project, intending to drive efficiencies into the permitting process.
Helping economic development in rural communities by finally allowing them to catch up.

This bill is cosponsored by nine members of Congress and is endorsed by the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband.

For Congressman Scott Tipton, cosponsoring the bill was important to his rural communities in Colorado. “Having access to reliable and fast broadband is critical to the success of every American family, student and small business. Unfortunately, the digital divide between rural and urban America is significant, and we must take action to make sure rural America is keeping up,” said Tipton. “Redundant permitting laws and regulations often hold up broadband projects, especially in rural areas, which in turn discourage providers from pursuing these projects. That’s why I am proud to cosponsor critical legislation that will streamline broadband projects in highway rights-of-way and ultimately increase broadband access across Colorado and the entire country.”

Congressman Paul Gosar, who also serves at the Chairman of the Western Caucus, added the following: ““The last Presidential election showed us that, more and more, there are two Americas – and rural America feels left behind. Basic services like broadband internet represent the minimum of what is necessary to participate in the 21st century American Dream, but too often rural communities are boxed out of reliable internet access by our own government’s convoluted, crawling approvals process for deploying broadband infrastructure. Congressman Curtis’ Rural Broadband Permitting Efficiency Act solves many of these problems. Rural America deserves to be on equal footing with the rest of the country, and I thank Mr. Curtis for working to bridge that infrastructure gap,” said Gosar.”

Derrick Owens, WTA’s Senior Vice President of Government & Industry Affairs welcomed this overdue bill. “WTA’s member companies, particular those serving the western portions of the U.S., have to wait significant lengths of time to get approvals to build broadband networks that cross federal lands, even when using existing rights-of-way. We welcome Rep. Curtis’ legislation, which would streamline this process. Government should do its due diligence, but it should also work efficiently because every day spent waiting for a permit is one more day rural Americans wait for quality broadband. Every dollar spent on duplicative environmental reviews is one less dollar available for investment in a robust broadband network.”

Val Hale, Executive Director, Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development added the following, “Broadband infrastructure is an important economic development factor, particularly in rural parts of the country. The Rural Broadband Permitting Efficiency Act will help improve coordination between state and federal agencies to speed up access to federal rights-of-way. We anticipate this legislation will make it easier for Utah’s residents and businesses to obtain broadband service and participate in a global economy.”