Congressional permission to transfer $8 million in Energy Department money from administration to the superconducting supercollider avoids delays in the physics research project, the department says.

Most of the money will be used to prepare environmental impact statements on prospective sites, Phil Keif, Energy Department spokesman, said Thursday."We have to go through that in order to select a site, so it keeps us on schedule," Keif said. Had the transfer of money been rejected, "it just would have delayed things," he said.

Rep. Carl Pursell, R-Mich., said the transfer was cleared by an agreement between House and Senate subcommittee chairmen concerned with funding for the $4.4 billion project, which physicists plan to use to study the basic structure of matter.

"Obviously, this approval demonstrates a certain level of support for the project within the subcommittee leadership which, as an advocate of the project, I'm delighted to see," said Pursell, a member of the House energy appropriations subcommittee.

Requests to transfer money that has already been appropriated require the consent of the chairman and ranking minority member of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees handling the money. The $8 million had been appropriated for the 1988 fiscal year.

The committees last month had denied the Energy Department's request to transfer the money amid substantial congressional opposition to the project.

Seven states have been selected as potential sites for the super collider, which will include a 53-mile-round particle accelerator. The finalists are Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.