Senate Republicans Address Outdated Permitting Laws

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee, recently introduced much-needed permitting reform legislation. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), another member of the EPW Committee, joined Ranking Member Capito in the unveiling of the Revitalizing the Economy by Simplifying Timelines and Assuring Regulatory Transparency (RESTART) Act. The legislation would reform the permitting and environmental review processes that are currently hampering both traditional and renewable energy infrastructure projects.

Permitting reform has been a big focus for legislators in  Washington  in the past year, with numerous bills introduced and passed that address our energy needs. From Senator Joe Manchin’s permitting reform legislation to the passing of H.R. 1 earlier this session, fixing the nation’s broken permitting process is a necessity for strengthening our energy security.

Sens. Capito and Cramer’s legislation would cover permitting issues that fall under the EPW’s jurisdiction. A significant portion of the EPW’s bill focuses on modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which has been used by activists to delay infrastructure projects.

The RESTART Act would implement strict deadlines for agencies to finish environmental assessments and impact statements, allowing projects to advance if those agencies miss a deadline without the threat of judicial review. Similarly, the bill would establish necessary time limits to prevent the weaponization of NEPA through delay-to-die litigation, avoiding endless legal battles by requiring courts to issue final conclusions within 180 days.

The RESTART Act takes an important step towards streamlining the permitting process by focusing on the aspects of federal law that are currently obstructing it, specifically NEPA. The other key provision of the bill would be the expedited completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which has been delayed due to the onerous permitting process. In order for the U.S. to be more energy secure, transport energy sources to market more efficiently, and export LNG to our allies abroad, the investment made in our domestic infrastructure must actually come to fruition.

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