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Permitting Reform Still on Table for This Congress

Analysis by Energy Workforce SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley

SVP Government Affairs Tim Tarpley

As part of the deal Sen. Joe Manchin cut with Sen. Chuck Schumer to allow for passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, he was promised a guarantee to attempt to pass federal permitting reform legislation, which has long been a priority for him. 

Currently, the most likely vehicle for this package would be attached to the government funding package (continuing resolution or CR) that must pass by September 30 in order to avoid a government shutdown. We have not seen text of the package yet, but given past legislative priorities of Sen. Manchin, we can expect strong language to limit and expedite environmental and other permitting slowdowns for energy infrastructure projects that require federal approval.  

Even though language has not yet been released, the path to passage will not be easy. Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as dozens of progressive members of the House, have indicated they will not support the CR if the permitting reform package is included. Sen. Sanders and others believe that permitting reform will make oil and gas infrastructure projects easier to build and encourage new construction, which they ultimately oppose.

Given that position, it is unlikely they will be persuaded by further negotiations.  Assuming Sen. Sanders is the only Democratic hold out, the bill will need Republican support for the bill to pass out of the Senate. So far, Sen. Mitch McConnell has not indicated he would provide support and has mentioned that he supports a recently introduced permitting package by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito but not the Manchin proposal.     

If sufficient support is garnered in the Senate, the House presents a greater problem. Potentially dozens of progressives are expected to break off, so the package will have to pass with significant Republican support. House Republicans seem unlikely to provide enough support to ensure passage. Part of the hesitation will be a calculation that they could get a better package through next year should House control flip. However, efforts are underway to work with the caucus to add provisions that could elicit support. It remains to be seen if that will be enough.  

If you would like to get involved with Energy Workforce advocacy efforts or the Government Affairs Committee, contact SVP Government Affairs Tim Tarpley.

Tim Tarpley, SVP Government Affairs & Counsel, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.



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