As much as we thought we were taking steps forward in streamlining the permitting process with the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), the Biden administration is sending mixed signals by adding more obstacles to approve energy projects. Recently, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced a proposal that aims to accelerate renewable energy projects and codify environmental justice into law, while imposing delays on traditional oil and gas projects. The Biden Administration continues to ignore the big picture: the hundreds of permitting laws from federal, state, and local governments are at fault for creating an inefficient and overcomplicated process.
The new proposal expands categorical exclusions, which allows agencies to flag projects as not having a significant effect on the environment and excludes them from a more extensive review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This provides agencies immense power to give short cuts to projects at their discretion, instead of reviewing each project equally. Additionally, the proposal would reverse a 2020 NEPA rule that regulated the public comment period to create a more effective discourse, further prolonging the permitting process.
It is obvious that the current permitting process has serious problems, and it is vital to America’s future that we act now. Instead of creating rules to favor one type of energy project over another, the Biden administration should focus on attacking the real problem and embrace all energy projects to facilitate America’s position as a global energy leader. Waiting around on permitting reform is costing Americans high-paying, dependable jobs and essential tax revenue that supports local infrastructure, healthcare, law enforcement and education. The clock is ticking. By refusing to address the root problem, America’s energy potential is being jeopardized.