The only thing standing between us and our affordable, clean energy future is a completely broken permitting process and the road to breaking through congressional gridlock lies in addressing three controversies that helped delay legislative action earlier this year.
Specifically, pushing through permitting reform during Congress’ lame-duck session requires resolving controversies over how much authority to give the federal government to site new electric transmission lines and allocate costs among beneficiaries, which types of projects should be covered and whether reforms will strengthen or weaken environmental justice.
Permitting reform is important for at least two reasons. First, it would enable both Republicans and Democrats to achieve some of their longstanding goals on energy policy, including energy affordability and reliability. Second, it would enable the nation to make significant progress on climate change by speeding up clean energy projects.
In essence, permitting reform is the missing piece, the sine qua non, of our national energy policy.
Over the last two years, policymakers have enacted four major laws to spur clean energy technology by authorizing new programs and policies and providing hundreds of billions of dollars to fund new projects. If those four bills — the 2020 bipartisan Energy Act, 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, 2022 bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act — deliver on their potential, they would put the nation on course to greater energy independence and make significant progress towards net-zero emissions by 2050.
What stands in the way? An outdated permitting process that delays projec …