D.C. update: Permitting proposals & CCL’s principles

 

The debate on permitting reform, which is needed to speed up the clean energy transition, is heating up in Congress. CCL volunteers began lobbying on this issue at our conservative conference in March and will continue to lobby on this issue when we head to Capitol Hill for our annual conference and lobby day in June. 

So, what are the proposals in play right now, and what will we be asking for? To answer these questions and provide an overview, CCL Senior Director of Government Affairs Jennifer Tyler recorded a legislative update to bring everyone up to speed. Watch her 5-minute video, or read on for a recap.

Republican messaging package passes

For starters, there was H.R. 1, an energy and permitting package passed by Republicans in the House. Jenn calls it “largely a messaging bill, full of partisan priorities,” and says it is not expected to move in the Senate. 

CCL expressed some appreciation for Republicans coming to the table on the issue, but we did not mobilize in support of this legislation. “It’s definitely not the type of permitting reform we wanted to see,” Jenn clarifies. “There were a lot of provisions in there that we would not be able to support.”

Democrats and Republicans introduce new bills

Since then, several other permitting reform bills have been introduced in the House and Senate by both Democrats and Republicans that have laid out the positions of the two parties, providing the basis for negotiations. We’ve seen proposals from Sen. Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Capito (R-WV), Sen. Cramer (R-ND), Rep. Casten (D-IL-06), and Rep. Levin (D-CA-49). 

Even President Biden outlined permitting reform priorities, Jenn said, “and he stressed the need for Congress to work across the aisle to get this done.”

“There are a lot of ideas going around, a lot to digest, but we know there’s even more coming,” Jenn said. “And that’s great, because we’re ultimately working toward a solution. Members of both parties and the administration already are on board with getting this done.”

CCL volunteers help steer the conversation

With the permitting reform conversation well underway in Congress, Jenn said, CCL’s job is to “help steer this conversation in the right direction and get it across the finish line.” 

This will be a major topic in our volunteer lobby meetings on Capitol Hill next month. Volunteers will be asking Congress for permitting reform that drives down carbon pollution by speeding up approval for good clean energy projects and protects the health and safety of American people and communities. If a permitting reform bill doesn’t align with those two principles, Jenn said, Citizens’ Climate Lobby won’t be able to support it.

To meet those two goals, we’re asking Congress to craft legislation that:

  • Adds to America’s capacity to transmit clean energy. As we have new clean electricity projects coming onto the grid, we have to be able to get that electricity to the homes and businesses that need it. This means clean energy permitting reform must include transmission.
  • Speeds up the approval of clean energy projects. We can’t wait 4.5 years or more for a solar farm to be installed if we’re going to hit our climate targets.
  • Allows local communities to make their voices heard. Communities need to weigh in on environmental and other impacts of proposed energy projects. Ideally this community input will happen early in a project’s timeline, and federal agencies will listen to that feedback and respond in a timely and effective manner. 

“We’ve been working on permitting reform since as soon as we realized how crucial it is to progress on climate change,” Jenn said. 

“Now is our time to hit the halls of Capitol Hill — members of the Senators, members of the House, Democrats, Republicans — to push them to come together on permitting reform so that we’re able to hit our emissions reduction targets, but we’re also protecting American communities.”

 

Learn more about permitting reform