Fred Wagner was quoted on March 27, 2018, in E&E News about the FCC voting 3-2 along party lines to approve an order to exempt small wireless infrastructure projects from the National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act permitting processes.
The order elicited immediate praise from the wireless industry, which says it will expedite deployment of 5G wireless networks. The potentially groundbreaking technology promises to spread wireless connectivity by relying on small, unobtrusive cell towers — called small cells — rather than the larger facilities of older networks.
Environmentalists and other critics — including cities and tribal groups — oppose the FCC's order largely because they think it has been rushed and doesn't follow established processes for making changes to NEPA and NHPA regulations.
Wagner said that opponents may have a case, but either way, the FCC may have been better suited taking its time and going with the categorical exclusion route.
"In some ways, this is like a perfect example of the tension between project development streamlining and NEPA review," Wagner said.