What are they teaming up to do? Who would have thought; however, they have a common goal. These adversaries are working together to change permitting delays by the current administration. Both groups want permitting reforms. Reforms will help them to receive the full benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) signed on August 16, 2022, by President Biden and increase domestic energy production.
In recent months both groups have been lobbying Congress to shorten the timelines for permit review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Members of these groups are meeting with Congress to express their opinions and concerns of how a slow permitting process is slowing pipeline and offshore wind construction as well as grid upgrades and expansions.
The groups are joining forces hoping to get things done. Working as allies instead of adversaries, lobbyists will join to meet with lawmakers to convince them to modify permitting requirements. Permitting delays hold back the economy whether it is a permit for wind, solar, hydrogen, oil and gas, or transmission expansion. The permitting process needs to be fixed. And now is the time for the government to get it done.
At least ten major energy infrastructure projects were cancelled or at the risk of being cancelled due to delays, and inconsistent and extensive permitting processes. These projects, which represent $34 billion in capital investments, were delayed an average of 7.5 years. This means some projects exceeded this timeline.
Another hurdle is getting through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. This process takes an average of 4.5 years; however, other permits are also needed expanding the average time through this part of the process.
The next phase is The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 certification process. This is the most common way to block energy projects. States have been known to delay or deny using the CWA. Currently this review is based on the whole project instead of being limited to the water quality impacts of the discharge only.
Almost always new or expansion project permits are challenged in court delaying projects for years and increasing costs. The permitting process should be modernized, and a quicker approval process developed.
Within the IRA there are 107 funded programs in various agencies. Nineteen programs fall under the oversight of the Department of Energy.* There are multiple goals that the IRA has set, increase in cleaner production, lower energy costs, and 40% carbon emissions reduction by 2030. According to the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation the investment in energy security and climate change is estimated at $369 billion.
Permitting reform legislature is scheduled to be passed before the end of the fiscal year, September 1, 2023. This is essential to jump start domestic energy and transmission projects. This should lower consumer costs and meet long-term emission goals.
For the latest details and deadlines, see www.CleanEnergy.gov. You can also sign up to receive updates. The IRA is not just for businesses, but for the consumer as well.
*https://www.whitehouse.gov/cleanenergy/inflation-reduction-act-guidebook (the guidebook is 184 pages cover to cover)