Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) is reintroducing his energy project permitting reform bill in the Senate. He also re-cited the need for reform in his remarks introducing the bill.
In the United States, it often takes between five and ten years—sometimes longer—to get critical energy infrastructure projects approved, putting us years behind allies like Canada, Australia, and more recently the EU, who each have policies designed to complete permitting in three years or less[.]
Even though fixing this would help allegedly green energy projects, also, Manchin’s cronies in the Progressive-Democratic Party syndicate have been happy to sacrifice that in favor of letting those interminable delays kill so many domestic cheap hydrocarbon-based energy projects. It’ll be an up-the-cliff battle to get anything like this passed in the Party-dominated Senate.
Among the useful things in Manchin’s bill, though, is this:
The Building American Energy Security Act would establish maximum timelines for permitting reviews including a two-year process for major projects and a one-year process for smaller projects. It would provide legal avenues for project developers to take against the federal government if a permitting review is delayed beyond set timelines and would mandate a single inter-agency environmental review.
That’s good as far as it goes, but here’s a better enforcement mechanism, IMNSHO: the permits should be will-issue, and if no decision is reached by those deadlines, the project should be deemed fully permitted, with no further review and no appeal of the permit. Rejections must be public, specific, and detailed, and they can be appealed directly to Federal courts: the Energy and Interior Departments, EPA, any other government entity can appear only as defendants in an appeal; no appeal of a permit grant should be allowed.
A further criterion and an additional deadline: if any of the rejection criteria are not met, the project should be deemed fully permitted, with no further appeal. The rejecting authority should have gotten it right the first time.
If the initial court does not reach a final decision within six months, the project must be deemed fully permitted. Appeals must be finally resolved within three months of the appeal filing (which itself must occur, fully developed, within one week of the lower court’s ruling, or the opportunity to appeal must be forfeit), or the project must be deemed fully permitted. And: only one appeal of a permit grant must be allowed at each court level; naysayers cannot be allowed to drag things out with serial appeals.
Those last put a premium on the Federal courts moving cases apace, but it puts a bigger premium on the lawyers to prepare and move their cases without delays—and eliminates the deliberate stalls represented by cynical serial appeals.