The GAIN Coalition has covered extensively the importance of permitting reform for energy companies looking to build projects across the country, and consumers who have had to bear the brunt of volatile energy prices this past year. Permitting reform is an important bipartisan issue. Congress should make every effort to pass a permitting reform bill. Notably, in September Democrats promised Senator Joe Manchin a vote on his bill in exchange for his support of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Though no legislation has come to fruition yet, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are still focused on finding compromise on permitting reform. Democratic Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) has taken up the mantle of reaching across the aisle to reform the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Rep. Peters believes that reexamining NEPA is critical to his goal of fast-tracking renewable infrastructure projects, such as wind and solar. Though many Democrats recognize the need to reform permitting to achieve these goals, Rep. Peters believes confronting the regulation in NEPA will get them there faster.
Rep. Peters said in an interview, “the boogeyman we always heard about is, ‘Oh you’re trying to change NEPA.’ And yeah, I’m trying to change NEPA.” Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR), who Peters has worked with before, understands this as well. Westerman has said that though “a well-meaning law,” NEPA has “been weaponized.”
Supporting commonsense permitting reform should be a priority for lawmakers across the aisle because it promotes an all the above approach. Expediting domestic infrastructure projects, such as LNG terminals and wind farms, will strengthen our short and long-term domestic energy security.