What allows for reform?Energy supply buried in debt ceiling talks


fall into high risk debt ceiling negotiations is a critical energy supply democrats and republicans In Washington, both are wanted — at least in theory.

Energy permitting reform aimed at shortening the time it takes new projects to get approved could be one of the few bipartisan measures debt limit agreement. Or it could be left on the cutting room floor.

Here’s something to know.

Energy licensing may sound dry, but it is an important and necessary step for any plan to bring new energy to our homes and businesses. This is shorthand for all the environmental and technical approvals required for large energy projects such as wind farms, large solar arrays, power transmission lines or gas pipelines.

Essentially, this is a major obstacle to building new energy projects in the United States.

In the United States, the process is particularly complex because project developers are accountable to multiple layers of government: federal, state, and local. In the federal government alone, there are multiple agencies that need to sign off on large energy projects—which creates multiple hurdles and delays their construction.

Long waiting times are the main problem the licensing reform aims to address. It’s not a new issue, but it has become more acute since Congress passed major climate and energy laws last summer.

Democrat Inflation Reduction Act Contains billions of dollars in tax credits aimed at boosting energy in the United States — especially clean energy.

But while these projects require a lot of money, they still take a long time to build.

“We’ve seen over the past 10 to 20 years that the project permitting regime in this country has shifted to the point where it’s impossible to build infrastructure at all – whether it’s offshore wind, clean technology or other RWE Renewables focused on offshore wind America executive Sam Eaton said at a recent industry conference.

The Lower Inflation Act includes billions of dollars for clean energy projects.

allow reform voted last year Failed in the Senate. Now, some lawmakers want to include it in the must-pass legislation to raise the debt limit because licensing is a complex and somewhat contentious issue.

Both parties agree that the United States is taking too long to build new energy infrastructure, with an average wait time of five years for projects to obtain all necessary approvals and permits.

But what they disagree on is what projects need to be prioritized; Republicans want more natural gas pipelines and fossil fuel projects, while Democrats and a Biden administration focus on the clean energy and power transmission.

It’s unclear whether this energy legislation will become the final debt-ceiling deal, and many hurdles remain. Some Democrats and environmental groups worry that Republicans could use the looser permits to undermine basic environmental laws. Senate Republicans, on the other hand, may be hesitant to give Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, a major political victory ahead of his re-election bid next year.

There are many different energy licensing bills swirling around Congress.

House Republicans recently passed a massive licensing package called “HR1” — not only the first House resolution of the session, but a sign that allowing reform is a top priority for the new Republican majority. The bill would significantly change the current federal environmental review process that major projects must undergo, increase federal oil and gas offshore leases, and relax mining laws for critical minerals.

“In order to address licensing reform, it needs to target all energy sources, including pipeline, nuclear and hydro,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rogers from Washington told CNN.

On the Senate side, Manchin has introduced a bill that would limit the time the federal government has to review and approve energy projects to two years. It would create a government agency to review projects and set a statute of limitations in court to reduce waiting times.

Manchin’s most controversial project was the green light for a natural gas pipeline in his home state of West Virginia. (Manchin The framework was introduced in a bill last year That failed, albeit in a different political environment. )

Another proposal, from Delaware Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper and Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, would set a two-year timeline for clean energy projects and prioritize transmission construction. Other Democratic lawmakers have introduced bills to overhaul centuries-old mining laws without undermining environmental review laws.

A small compressor station and natural gas pipeline near Moab, Utah. Environmental advocates worry that allowing the reforms could open the door to make it easier for fossil fuel projects to get approved.

Keeping the National Environmental Policy Act intact has become a top concern for many Democrats, who fear Republicans will seize the opportunity to allow reforms to undermine the federal government’s cornerstone environmental review process.

NEPA is a law that requires federal agencies to quantify the environmental impact of their actions and consider less damaging options. It applies whenever the project spans federal land or could affect air or water quality under the Clean Air Act.

Pulling it back could mean less oversight of projects that could pollute waterways or the air — whether they are related to fossil fuels or the byproduct of mining key minerals for electric vehicles.

“I worry that we’re going to give the fossil fuel industry a lot of giveaways and take a big cut from cornerstone environmental law, which will have long-term negative consequences,” Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman of California, told the U.S. CNN. “If you care about the climate and the environment, you have reason to be deeply concerned.”

The federal permitting bill — if passed — would not touch state and local powers to alter or halt projects. This could still hold back large-scale energy build-outs.

At a recent offshore wind conference, an executive said state and local authorities were still likely to present the greatest challenge to large-scale renewable wind projects.

Clint Plummer, chief executive of Rise and Light Power, a New York-based offshore wind company, said most of the federal government’s delays were due to staffing shortages. But in general, federal agencies “tend to be very professional and very good at what they do.”

“My experience is that the biggest challenge for offshore wind is not the federal permitting challenge,” Plummer said. “[They] State and local approvals are often required for landing cables and connecting to the grid. ”

Plummer added that most offshore wind projects either face significant delays or increased costs to get approval for these cable connections or transmission rights, and said wind companies must work hard to engage with local communities, which “have a huge power to delay, or in some cases, kill the project.”

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