July 27, 2023
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21 Companies Identify Top Priorities for Federal Permitting Reform
Growing Jobs and the Economy by Speeding Clean Energy Investment
WASHINGTON—A coalition of 21 leading companies today released a joint letter to House and Senate Leadership urging Congress to pass comprehensive, bipartisan permitting reform legislation to accelerate the clean energy transition. The letter, organized by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), identifies five key priorities for permitting reform: community engagement, transmission, critical and strategic materials, pipelines, and ensuring appropriate timelines for review.
“To strengthen the American economy and meet our climate goals, we need to make it much easier and faster to build clean energy infrastructure in this country. This letter lays out a roadmap to permitting legislation that can deliver real results and good jobs for the nation’s economy – and garner broad support from America’s leading businesses,” said C2ES President Nathaniel Keohane.
Modernizing and expanding our nation’s clean energy infrastructure could mobilize trillions of dollars of private sector investment. But state and federal permitting processes are delaying too many projects, and discouraging others from ever being proposed – needlessly slowing our transition to a thriving, low-carbon economy. The letter released today, calling for reforms that could accelerate that transition, is co-signed by AECOM, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, BHP, bp America, DHL Group, Dow, Inc., dsm-firmenich North America, Duke Energy Corporation, Eastman, Edison International, Equinor, Ford Motor Company, GE Vernova, Holcim US, Honeywell International Inc., National Grid, PG&E Corporation, Schneider Electric North America, Shell USA, Inc., Siemens Energy, Inc., and Southern Company. The companies have identified a set of priorities that should be included as part of effective permitting reform legislation:
- Elevating community engagement to accelerate permitting while maintaining the high environmental and social performance standards that have protected American communities;
- Expanding transmission to enhance the reliability and resiliency of our nation’s electric grid and realize our nation’s abundant clean energy potential;
- Developing critical and strategic minerals to produce a clean, secure supply of materials that are critical to our economic and climate goals;
- Accelerating pipelines and storage infrastructure to decarbonize our nation’s economy with robust new pipeline and storage networks; and
- Ensuring appropriate timelines for permit review and subsequent judicial review to modernize our permitting processes through strict, but fair limits on legal challenges.
In the coming weeks, C2ES will work with these companies to develop more detailed recommendations in each of the five priority areas, and actively inform deliberations in Congress.
See the full text of the letter below:
Dear Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker McCarthy, and House Minority Leader Jeffries:
We, the undersigned, write to urge you and your colleagues in Congress to act swiftly to pass comprehensive, bipartisan permitting legislation. While the provisions included in the Fiscal Responsibility Act were a welcome first step, much more needs to be done to enable the construction of projects at the scale, speed, and certainty needed to meet the country’s climate, energy and economic goals. Well-designed permitting reform will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions: it will catalyze investment, create well-paying jobs that benefit all Americans, and strengthen our national security by expanding domestic supply chains, production, and processing of critical materials for low- and zero-carbon technologies. We understand that this will not be easy, but we are committed to working with you and your colleagues to build consensus for meaningful and durable legislation.
We recommend that Congress focus on five key areas for permitting reform, including: community engagement, transmission, critical materials, pipelines, and ensuring appropriate timelines for review.
- Community engagement: We believe that it is possible to accelerate permitting while maintaining the high environmental and social performance standards that have protected American communities, and preserving and even enhancing the ability of those communities to have a voice in matters that affect them. Early and regular community engagement in the environmental review process can help foster trust, increasing the likelihood of project success; regular consultation provides a forum that empowers communities to play a pivotal role in decision-making processes during project development. Effective community engagement is essential and should be considered during any revisions to the permitting process, including the key areas listed in this letter.
- Transmission: Enhancing the reliability and resiliency of our nation’s electric grid as well as realizing our nation’s abundant clean energy potential will mean expanding transmission capacity across the country. Like other energy projects requiring federal authorization, permitting and siting new transmission projects in some parts of the country can take a decade or more to complete, impeding our ability to maintain our grid’s reliability, meet consumer demand, and lead the world toward a low-carbon future. Congress should take steps to ensure that this process is completed in an efficient manner so that companies have the certainty they need to make investments in a clean, affordable, and reliable power grid. Planning and coordination are key to the most effective and reliable transmission system at the lowest cost to customers.
- Critical and Strategic Minerals: Our nation has vast mineral resources that are vital to the low-carbon economy and our national security. Safe, responsible development of these resources could boost production, processing, and recycling of critical materials, creating jobs and building a domestic supply chain for industries of the future. With some of the strongest environmental safeguards and employee and community protections in the world, the United States is well-placed to produce a clean, secure supply of materials that are critical to our economic and climate goals. Congress should work to support the development of robust and resilient domestic supply chains for critical materials.
- Pipelines and Storage Infrastructure: Meeting our nation’s climate goals requires robust new pipeline and storage networks to enable the transition to a decarbonized economy. Congress should act to accelerate pipeline deployments and prioritize clarification of siting and regulatory authorities for novel interstate low- and zero-emission product pipelines and related storage infrastructure, including Class VI well development.
- Ensuring appropriate timelines: Finally, Congress should ensure appropriate timelines for permit review and subsequent judicial review. The Fiscal Responsibility Act added reasonable page and time limits to the environment review process, which we believe will be effective, but more needs to be done. Accessible judicial review is a cornerstone of a good permitting process, but current timelines for review and litigation often disincentivizes the investment we need to meet our long-term climate goals. Congress should work with urgency to reform the existing process, across a range of applicable agencies and regulations, and ensure timelines are appropriate but do not cause unnecessary delays on projects. Strict, but fair limits on legal challenges are essential components of modernizing our permitting processes.
We greatly appreciate your leadership and continued attention to meeting our country’s climate, economic, and security goals. As you continue to discuss permitting reform with your colleagues, we encourage you to review the Center for Climate and Energy Solution’s “Reaching for 2030: Climate and Energy Priorities,” which provides additional information on these issues. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to build consensus for meaningful and durable permitting reform in the 118th Congress.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy
dsm-firmenich North America
|Duke Energy Corporation
Ford Motor Company
|Honeywell International Inc.
Schneider Electric North America
Shell USA, Inc.
Siemens Energy, Inc.
About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) works to secure a safe and stable climate, by accelerating the global transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and a thriving, just, and resilient economy. Learn more at www.c2es.org.