Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) unveiled his long-awaited permitting reform legislation, which may be included in the must-pass government funding bill by September 30. The release of his proposal follows a nearly two-month wait since Senator Manchin received a pledge for permitting reform from the White House and Congressional Democrat leadership in exchange for his vote on the $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act. A framework was released from the Senator’s office, however, a leaked bill containing legislative language did not align with what was originally issued.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 would overhaul many aspects of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), such as a two-year limit on NEPA environmental reviews, changes to the Clean Water Act approval process, limits on judicial review, and creation of a president’s priority list of projects. The legislation would also address the labyrinth of red tape surrounding renewable and fossil fuel energy projects, which the GAIN Coalition supports.
Additionally, the reform bill intends to counter infrastructure opposition groups who use reviews to demand more time and analysis as a tactic to suspend or kill projects.
The legislation also saves the Mountain Valley Pipeline from legal uncertainty and would provide a means for the efficient transportation of West Virginia’s natural gas. While the project is about 95 percent complete, it has been subject to years of litigation leading to excessive delays.
Below is a statement that can be attributed to me, Craig Stevens, spokesman for the GAIN Coalition:
“Despite partisan headwinds threatening to derail good policy, federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill have never been closer to enacting comprehensive permitting reform legislation. With the full public release of Senator Manchin’s legislation, the GAIN coalition urges Congress to enact reforms which responsibly address bureaucratic roadblocks inhibiting the construction of our nation’s critical energy infrastructure.
GAIN supports efforts from both parties to streamline the environmental review process and ensure that NEPA achieves its original intent of protecting the environment in a way that doesn’t compromise American jobs or energy security. That is why the separate proposals from Sens. Capito, Manchin, and others are so important. With the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, START Act, and the BUILDER Act, Congress has much to consider, and should follow through on this opportunity to make a meaningful difference for our nation’s critical infrastructure projects.”