Earlier this fall, lawmakers on the fringe left poured water on the passage of Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) bill to update our country’s antiquated environmental laws. Now, according to congressional leaders, scuttled permitting reform legislation may be back on the table in the lame duck session of the 117th Congress. It’s an important development on Capitol Hill, and one that is long overdue.
Support across the political spectrum is also fueling support for a bipartisan win on permitting reform. At the start of December, the Progressive Policy Institute released a letter outlining their priorities for the end of the year, which included energy permitting reform to “boost energy supply and combat climate change.” Common-sense permitting reform is among the most bipartisan of issues, especially as the war in Ukraine and inflation have illustrated the need for more domestic infrastructure.
As PPI notes, household energy prices have risen 32 percent “between October 2020 and October 2022.” While Congress has made strides to address some of these concerns by allocating over a trillion dollars in the bipartisan infrastructure law, CHIPS and Science Act and others, the money is at risk of being hamstrung by onerous red tape.
Unnecessary permitting has severely impacted projects across the country. PPI notes that “often duplicative government reviews and nuisance lawsuits have pushed average time for permitting to 4.3 years for transmission [projects], 3.5 years for pipelines, and 2.7 years for renewable energy generation projects.” In a time of extremely volatile energy supply, demand and prices, an ever-increasing lead time on completing vital projects that would alleviate much of the existing pressure cannot continue. Congress must take up commonsense permitting reform.
PPI suggests that the easiest avenue in which to streamline the permitting process is to pass the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) as part of an omnibus bill or in the renewal of the NDAA. The EISA would most notably require the president to set a list of twenty-five high-priority infrastructure projects to receive priority permitting, approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline and set one to two year targets for environmental reviews.
As the EISA is the most immediate way to cut the red tape continuing to constrain American energy projects, the GAIN Coalition echoes PPI’s bipartisan approach to permitting reform and calls on Congress to pass the Act as soon as possible.