Permitting reform kicks off in Congress

Permitting reform kicks off in Congress

Permitting reform is critical if we’re going to make the clean energy transition happen fast enough to meet our climate targets. If we don’t start building clean energy infrastructure faster, we will only achieve about 20% of the potential carbon pollution reduction from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. That’s why CCL is engaging on it.

But the permitting reform discussion attracts many different players with many different goals. Lawmakers are starting to put forward their own ideas for changes to the permitting process. At the end of February, E&E News reported that House Republicans were working on multiple bills that would ultimately be part of a “sweeping” energy and permitting reform package that would come to the floor at the end of March. There have already been a few hearings in different House committees to start to explore those initial bills, many of which deal more with traditional forms of energy than with clean energy.

The Biden administration has been talking about this, too, through a more clean energy lens. At an event earlier this month, White House Energy Adviser John Podesta said permitting reform was high on the administration’s agenda. He said that the permitting process for clean energy infrastructure is “plagued by delays and bottlenecks” and that “there’s plenty that we can do and must do federally.” This means that legislation is needed to update permitting processes in a way that preserves community input, while letting us build and connect a lot of clean energy, fast.

On Wednesday of last week, House Republicans unveiled their energy and permitting reform package, which they’re calling the “Lower Energy Costs Act.” They gave it bill number H.R. 1, and the Speaker of the House, California Republican Kevin McCarthy, said in a video, “We can streamline permitting and still protect the environment. That’s a goal worthy of the number one.”

Though H.R. 1 is not the type of permitting reform we want to see, we are glad to see lawmakers at the table from both sides of the aisle to have this policy discussion. And as with any major policy, the first version is not what’s going to get across the finish line. Our legislative team and others in D.C. are thinking of this package as just the opening bid in the permitting discussion. 

“This is just the starting point for Republicans’ negotiation,” says Ben Pendergrass, CCL Vice President of Government Affairs. Ben emphasizes that volunteers shouldn’t get too wrapped up in the specifics of these first pieces of legislation, as this is just a starting point. 

How can you get involved?

Permitting reform, as with most legislation, will be an evolving topic throughout the course of this Congress. You can keep an eye on our “Permitting Reform” blog tag to see how this issue develops and how CCLers are engaging.

For now, you can continue to educate yourself, your chapter, and your community about the opportunities presented by clean energy permitting reform. Check out our Clean Energy Permitting Reform training page on CCL Community, or our session on clean energy permitting reform from CCL’s December conference.

As the conversation in Congress advances, you’ll be ready to contribute and steer your representatives in the right direction. Additionally, attend our June conference and lobby day in person on Capitol Hill to help steer the permitting reform discussion in the right direction.


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Katie Zakrzewski, CCL Communications Coordinator, is an avid reader, writer and policy wonk. With published pieces, as well as podcast and radio appearances spanning the country, Zakrzewski looks forward to using her talents to create a healthier planet of tomorrow.