Let’s Make 2024 the Year for Clean Energy Permitting Reform ⚡️
This could be a HUGE win for the climate
Congress made progress on clean energy permitting reform last year, but we need to move faster. We want to see a new, bipartisan permitting package get introduced and pushed over the finish line.
Ask Congress to enact further permitting reform legislation this year.
The new package must:
- boost transmission projects ⬆️
- improve early community involvement 🤝
- speed up the pace with which the U.S. builds and deploys new clean energy projects ⏰
Without permitting reform, 80% of the potential carbon pollution reductions from the Inflation Reduction Act will be lost. We need Congress to work across the aisle and get this done!
Take action now by emailing your members of Congress.
What is Clean Energy Permitting Reform?
Just like you need a building permit to expand your home, big energy projects must get written approval from local, state, and/or federal authorities to start construction. There are three key parts to successful energy permitting reform:
1. Siting/building clean energy projects
Right now, it takes an average of 4.5 years for federal agencies just to complete environmental impact statements for major energy projects. These are important assessments, but we need them to move faster and speed up the pace with which we build new clean energy projects. Congress took the first steps to address this in the June 2023 debt ceiling bill.
2. Transmitting that clean energy across the country
Thanks to tax credits passed in the Inflation Reduction Act, development of new solar and wind energy projects will grow exponentially. But building them is only part of the challenge – they also need to be connected to the grid to move power to the houses and businesses that need them. Ultimately, we need to triple our current capacity to transmit clean electricity by 2050.
3. Involving local communities
Better permitting allows local communities to give their input on energy projects early in the process and choose good projects over bad ones. Good projects should be approved faster, harmful projects should be rejected faster, and all new projects should safeguard the lives and health of people living nearby.
Learn more about Clean Energy Permitting Reform:
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need clean energy permitting reform?
Permitting is important, but it adds hefty time and expense to projects of all kinds. It takes an average of 4.5 years for federal agencies to complete environmental impact statements for major energy projects. Permitting reform is critical if we’re going to make the clean energy transition happen fast enough to meet our climate target and should be done in a way that protects communities, preserves their ability to provide input and maintains environmental standards. It also:
- Is necessary to meet America’s climate goals
- Removes a backlog of clean energy projects
- Creates jobs in rural areas on wind and solar farms in need of spaces with abundant sun and wind
- Paves the way for projects that could prevent up to 180,000 premature American deaths over the next decade by reducing air pollution.
What clean energy permitting reform provisions were passed in the debt ceiling bill?
The debt ceiling deal (a.k.a. the Fiscal Responsibility Act) contains the following provisions:
- Designates a lead agency when multiple federal agencies are involved in the permitting of an energy project.
- All agencies would work together on a single environmental review document rather than each agency creating duplicative work.
- Sets time and page limits on environmental assessments and impact statements (1 and 2 years, respectively). Federal agencies will be allowed to extend the deadlines in coordination with project applicants is necessary.
- Allows project applicants to choose to write environmental documents themselves and have agencies review them and take responsibility for their accuracy
Basically, it made the NEPA permitting process more efficient, speeding up the approval of new clean energy projects.
What is the BIG WIRES Act?
The BIG WIRES Act is a current bill fostering permitting reform conversation in both the House and Senate. CCL has supported this bill in previous volunteer actions because it directly addresses the issue of energy transmission. We also held more than 350 lobby meetings in November 2023 where we pushed for its passage. Ideally, it will be passed as part of a larger, bipartisan clean energy permitting reform package.
What provisions do we want to see in a new permitting reform package?
Good permitting reform doesn’t just speed up new clean energy projects. We still need to bump up our capacity to transmit clean energy and improve early community input on these projects.
In recent years, the nation has only expanded its electricity transmission capabilities at a rate of 1% annually; well below the 2% rate seen in prior decades. Building a new electrical transmission line, on average, takes over a decade. If construction of energy infrastructure continues at this pace, we will not be able to lower our emissions at the speed and scale necessary and ensure Americans have affordable and reliable energy in the 21st century.
Additionally, clean energy isn’t a tradeoff. Any new projects should safeguard the lives and health of people living near them and should prioritize feedback from local communities early on in the permitting process.
Will permitting reform increase fossil fuel production?
Most of the new infrastructure proposed in the U.S. is now for clean energy. Reports from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory find that in 2021, 85% of new energy capacity was clean energy. More than 92% of new energy projects currently awaiting permits are solar and wind, and just 7.5% are natural gas. In each of the past three years, 84% of new energy capacity built in the United States was clean energy.
How else can I help?
You only need to email your members of Congress once yourself. Then, share this page with any friends, family and coworkers who want to help get comprehensive, bipartisan clean energy permitting reform legislation passed in Congress!
Who is Citizens’ Climate Lobby?
Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan grassroots advocacy climate change organization that exists to create the political will for climate change solutions by enabling individual breakthroughs in the exercise of personal and political power.
Our consistently respectful, nonpartisan approach to climate education is designed to create a broad, sustainable foundation for climate action across all geographic regions and political inclinations.
CCL empowers everyday people to work with their community and their members of Congress. Our supporters cover the political spectrum and work in more than 450 local chapters. Together, we’re building support for a national bipartisan solution to climate change.