A boom in bureaucracy won't build America back any better
© Greg Nash

Widespread voter consensus wants Congress to fix Washington’s red-tape problem and rebuild our critical infrastructure. It’s time for politicking to get out of the way.

There is plenty to get behind in President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE’s infrastructure proposal.

Roads without potholes. Pristine drinking water. Fast and reliable internet. Cleaner, American-produced power. These are all no-brainers. Everyone agrees that by addressing these issues we can modernize our nation, reinvigorate our economy and create new opportunities for good-paying American jobs.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the glue that holds the president’s proposal together doesn’t stick for most Americans.

Massive expansion of federal bureaucracy and government control won’t make America’s roads and bridges better; and it won’t make our power grids more reliable or less polluting. For far too long, Washington-generated red tape and duplicative oversight have hamstrung our nation’s ability to repair crumbling infrastructure without massive cost overruns and unnecessary delays.

These roadblocks prevent our communities from joining the technological revolution and put off America’s transition to a more robust and sustainable energy future.

Simplifying our nation’s complex permitting process would increase predictability, shorten the time to project delivery and reduce costs — while still providing for thoughtful consideration of public and environmental concerns.

Streamlining project approvals is especially critical in the clean energy sector. If America wants to harness the power of our natural resources, create jobs and reduce emissions, we can’t allow clean energy projects to be delayed by nonsensical, bureaucratic roadblocks.

ADVERTISEMENT

And voters agree. Recent polling by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions revealed that 73 percent of American voters — both Republicans and Democrats — support streamlining and reforming government regulations that hamper the transition to clean energy.

Voters want a modern, all-of-the-above energy grid able to handle 21st century problems. They also know government red tape prevents breakthroughs, leaving Americans vulnerable to the unexpected.

February’s severe weather brought unthinkable hardship and heartbreaking loss across Texas. It may be tempting to write off these weather conditions as a once-in-a-century anomaly, but it’s the most recent reminder our climate is changing, ushering in extreme events in unexpected places, with little warning.

America is underprepared to deal with extreme stresses on our electric grid. Systems designed generations ago — some more than 100 years old — can’t meet today’s needs. The answer lies in strengthening our GDP and our overall resiliency, not passing legislation, which will trash our economy and our children’s shot at prosperity. This includes a modernized energy infrastructure, including adequate transmission and new grid-scale storage to decouple electricity generation from its use.

Republicans and Democrats want clean, affordable and reliable energy. We are willing to put in the hard work to prepare for and accommodate fewer fossil fuels and more renewables in our energy mix, provided we do not sacrifice grid reliability or artificially skew energy markets. This starts with a bipartisan effort to improve our nation’s aging infrastructure.

If we pursue the right infrastructure policy, clean energy projects can be built while saving the American taxpayer money and creating good-paying, “Made in the USA” jobs. There are proposals on the table to enact regulatory reforms that would encourage private sector investment without breaking the bank.

The One Federal Decision Act, introduced by Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel Capitol Police Board signals resistance to reform McCarthy says that he will not support bipartisan deal for Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Ill.), seeks to consolidate permitting decisions for major infrastructure projects into a single environmental review process that must be completed in two years, overseen by a single federal agency of jurisdiction; and the Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays & Efficient Reviews (BUILDER) Act, introduced last Congress by Rep. Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesSafe and ethical seafood on the menu this Congress GOP sees opportunity to knock Biden amid rising gas prices McCarthy unveils House GOP task forces, chairs MORE (R-La.), would further modernize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Updating NEPA would enable clean energy sector construction to move forward while continuing to adhere to important environmental standards.

Clean energy is not a red versus blue issue — it’s a red, white and blue issue. Infrastructure should be no different. If Republicans and Democrats could come together to pass the Energy Act of 2020, they can do it again to rebuild America. But if congressional Democrats and the Biden administration think that forcing more mandates and Washington bureaucracy on America is any way to rebuild our infrastructure, they should take a serious look in the rearview mirror at the crumbling roads that strategy has produced so far.

 

Reams is executive director for Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization founded in 2013 to engage Republican policymakers and the public about responsible, conservative solutions to address our nation’s energy, economic and environmental security while increasing America’s competitive edge.