Today, the GAIN Coalition hosted a webinar to discuss energy infrastructure and recent permitting reforms for energy projects, featuring Representative Mike Carey (R-OH), GAIN Spokesman Craig Stevens, Dr. Ellen Wald, Guy Caruso and former Congressman, Representative Charlie Melancon (D-LA), spokesman for Louisiana Energy Export Partners.
Permitting reform has been a hot button issue in Washington with regards to the future of U.S. energy policy. With the recent passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), there have been significant steps in streamlining the permitting process, such as holding environmental reviews to strict deadlines and designating a lead agency for reviews on multi-agency projects. However, our panelists begged to differ that these reforms go far enough.
Rep. Mike Carey talked about the importance of the energy sector in the U.S., describing it as “energy is life.” Additionally, Rep. Carey emphasized his hopes that Congress would curtail extremism from both sides of the political spectrum, continuing to build off the FRA and focus on permitting reform.
Dr. Ellen Wald detailed the shortfalls of the FRA as the reforms don’t wholly streamline the permitting process. Particularly, once the courts are involved, there is a lack of accountability and deadlines, as illustrated by major projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline. She also noted that, if these issues with permitting persist, companies will not be incentivized to deploy capital for more projects, which could be detrimental to the U.S.’ energy production.
Building off of Dr. Wald’s comments, Guy Caruso, former Administrator of the Energy Information Administration, discussed the need to sustain the growth of one of the largest industries in our country, no matter the type of energy project. Additionally, he raised concerns about the national security implications with inconsistent energy production as we have seen other countries fall victim to like in the European Union.
As Louisiana is a major energy hub, former Congressman and Spokesman for Louisiana Energy Export Partners, Rep. Charlie Melancon, highlighted his first-hand frustrating experience with permitting process during his time in office and the importance of the energy industry in the state. In the past twenty years, Louisiana has expanded their production capacity but issues with permitting still persist causing major delays. The energy industry is the backbone of Louisiana’s economy, and a streamlined permitting process would bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars back into the state.
All of our panelists agreed that there is much work to be done and it’s imperative to act to secure our nation’s future.