Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia senator Joe Manchin – best known for watering down President Joe Biden’s flagship “build back better” bill – introduced the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022.
If passed, it would set targets for reviews of major projects and impose a 150-day time limit for court challenges against permitted projects.
It would also create a lead agency to carry out permitting reviews, create a list of 25 projects of national importance – featuring different types of energy projects, including fossil fuel projects – for priority review. It would also pave the way for the speedy approval of the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from southern Virginia to northern West Virginia favoured by conservative Democrat Manchin.
Introduction of the bill follows Biden signing into law legislation extending support schemes for wind projects and introducing new support for the manufacturing of renewable energy technologies.
Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association, described the US’s current permitting system as “overly cumbersome and mired in delays” and claimed it jeopardises timely development of renewable energy.
“Making common-sense reforms to our current permitting process will help us unleash the full potential of the clean energy investments spurred by the Inflation Reduction Act and keep us within striking distance of the emissions reduction targets and climate goals we need to achieve,” she said.
“As renewable energy projects become more prevalent and federal involvement likely increases, we must consider reasonable permitting reforms that preserve the substance of bedrock environmental laws while expediting the review process under them.”