Legislation Targets Energy Permitting Process

Energy Permitting
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A Democratic senator from West Virginia is reintroducing legislation that would reform the federal energy permitting process.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced Tuesday that he is reintroducing the Building American Energy Security Act.

The Building American Energy Security Act of 2023 is a comprehensive bill designed to safeguard “American energy security and independence” by streamlining the development timeline for certain energy-related infrastructure projects, a handout on the proposal explained.

“I am introducing the Building American Energy Security Act today to restart the conversation in the Senate about accelerating our permitting process as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee continues to discuss, consider, and act on advancing this critical topic,” Manchin said in a press release.

If approved, the proposed legislation would address allegedly excessive litigation delays, designate and prioritize projects of strategic national importance, and set a maximum timeline for permitting reviews, including two years for major projects and one year for lower-impact projects.

The proposal would also enhance federal authority over the permitting process with interstate electric transmission facilities determined to be in the national interest, according to the bill’s table of contents.

“In the United States, it often takes between five and ten years — sometimes longer — to get critical energy infrastructure projects approved, putting us years behind allies like Canada, Australia, and more recently the EU, who each have policies designed to complete permitting in three years or less,” Manchin said.

Originally introduced by Manchin in September 2022, the Building American Energy Security Act saw a number of holdups in Congress before ultimately being rejected by the Senate. However, this time Manchin believes the legislative proposal stands a much stronger chance of passing in the Senate.

“I am confident that we will find a path forward, and the Building American Energy Security Act, which has already enjoyed bipartisan support, will serve to kick off that process,” Manchin said.

Supporters claim Manchin’s legislative proposal is likely to accelerate the United States’ transition to energy independence, according to JC Sandberg, chief advocacy officer at American Clean Power Association.

“Burdensome rules and regulations on energy generation and transmission are creating major obstacles to building clean energy projects that will significantly reduce our foreign dependence,” Sandberg said in December, the last time the bill was voted on, Fox News reported.

“This legislation allows us to strengthen our energy security while delivering the clean, abundant, and affordable power that Americans are demanding,” he claimed. “Lawmakers should seize this opportunity to find bipartisan common ground to solve our toughest energy challenges.”

Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who opposed the bill, disagreed with Sandberg, saying instead, “This [bill] will give a whole lot more impetus to fossil fuels and run over the top of ordinary people raising concerns, that’s why it’s a dirty deal. This is a real travesty in terms of legislative deliberation, and in terms of environmental justice,” per The Guardian.

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