Permitting Reform Essential to Advancing Energy Infrastructure

Posted on September 09, 2022 by Minerals Make Life

Affordable and abundant supplies of energy and raw materials are the building blocks of U.S. economic growth and our competitiveness on a global stage.

Yet the U.S. is facing a supply chain crisis for the very energy and raw materials it needs to upgrade our outdated roads, bridges and transit systems, and to build new electric cars, solar panels and wind turbines. The demand for energy and minerals has quickly outpaced existing supplies and even the pipeline of coming projects.

President Biden and Congress recognize that to deliver the transformation they’ve promised, the U.S. must improve the federal environmental review and permitting process so that it’s more efficient and effective. Otherwise, the U.S. will sit on the sidelines as other countries take the lead in global energy and minerals supply chains.

The current permitting process is cumbersome, often stalling projects for years – sometimes decades – with duplicative reviews, a burdensome approval process and unending legal challenges. Policymakers need to enact commonsense reforms that will provide certainty concerning decision timelines and ensure the U.S. sees the necessary investment in domestic energy infrastructure projects.

To accomplish this, policymakers should:

  1. Require federal agencies to collaborate on a single environmental review document to avoid duplication;
  2. Establish a concurrent review process for all appropriate agencies to assess a project;
  3. Set reasonable timeframes and clear requirements for environmental reviews; and
  4. Address the litigious nature of the process by establishing a reasonable timeframe for any legal challenges.

The goal of these reforms should be to uphold environmental protection and community engagement while reducing self-imposed barriers to investing in and building the energy and minerals supply chains essential to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

In 2021, the U.S. imported $90 billion worth of minerals despite the nation’s vast mineral resources. With $6.2 trillion worth of minerals within our borders, we don’t need to rely on geopolitical rivals like China and Russia and other countries with poor environmental protections and dismal labor and safety practices to supply the minerals we need.

To avoid a worsening supply chain crisis and deliver on promised infrastructure updates and future energy technologies, policymakers must implement commonsense improvements to the permitting process.

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