Energy & Environment

Chamber of Commerce leads letter urging permitting reform action this year

A grain truck drives past a Keystone pipeline pumping station near Milford, Neb., Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. President Donald Trump took action Thursday to clear the way and speed up development of a wide range of commercial projects by cutting back federal review of their impact on the environment. The aim of the planned overhaul of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, is to streamline environmental approvals for major construction efforts like highways, airports, pipelines and power plants. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A coalition of influential lobbying groups called on Congress to act on the energy permitting reforms championed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) by the end of the summer in a letter Monday.

While the letter is led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the oil and renewable energy industries are also represented in the letter, with the American Petroleum Institute and the Solar Energy Industries Association among the signers.

The letter calls the current permitting system “the single biggest obstacle” to infrastructure buildouts in the U.S. It does not endorse a specific piece of legislation, but instead calls for reforms that improve transparency, predictability, efficiency and input from stakeholders.

“We are pleased to see support for modernizing our permitting process from across the ideological spectrum, and a recognition that the current system is broken,” the letter states. “We know there are differing perspectives in Congress on how best to address current challenges. Our organizations will not agree on every issue. We are committed, however, to working with Congress to find solutions and pass meaningful and durable legislation.”

Manchin in 2022 lent his support to the Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) guarantee to bring legislation to the floor streamlining the permitting process for new energy projects. Although the reforms would also apply to renewable energy projects, green groups vocally opposed the measure, citing its likely impact on fossil fuel development. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are wary of giving the West Virginia Democrat a policy one as he faces what is likely to be a tough re-election fight in 2024.

Last September, however, after initially attaching reform measures to a must-pass government funding bill, Manchin removed the language amid bipartisan opposition. Manchin’s Republican colleague, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), introduced a separate permitting reform bill the same month.

Tags Joe Manchin Shelley Moore Capito

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