There are very few opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to come together in agreement on something. When these opportunities appear, they should be taken advantage of.
A few days ago, Sen. Joe Manchin introduced the Building American Energy Security Act of 2023. Among other things, this bill would streamline the environmental review and permitting process for energy infrastructure projects.
While the permitting process was intended to protect the environment, it is starting to get in the way. According to a report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 85% of new energy capacity came from renewables, compared with 40% in 2011. More than 92% of the energy projects now waiting to be permitted are wind and solar. The rest are natural gas, which is still a fossil fuel but burns cleaner than oil or coal. The sooner these projects can be completed, the more easily we can secure our energy supply while reducing our carbon output.
But as Manchin said, “In the United States, it often takes between five and 10 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. It is clear that without comprehensive permitting reform we will never ensure lasting American energy security and independence and will delay progress on environmental goals.”
As it happens, the first bill passed by the Republican majority House this year, H.R. 1, would waive many environmental review requirements. But other features of this bill make it unlikely to pass in the Senate. This is an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together on something we all agree we need.
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