Another Environmental Permitting Reform Bill Emerges

AGC has the latest on Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) legislation for his long-awaited permitting reform for energy infrastructure, as the clock ticks towards another government shutdown.   

AGC previously reported that Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced the Simplify Timelines and Assure Regulatory Transparency (START) Act, which is supported by most Republican Senators but does not appear to have a path to passage. On September 21, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced legislation (summary) his long-awaited permitting reform for energy infrastructure.  

Some highlights of the legislation include:

  • Sets a 2-year target for reviews of major energy projects which require a full environmental impact statement and a 1-year target for projects which require an environmental assessment;
  • Designates a lead agency to coordinate project reviews and expands the use of shared inter-agency environmental review documents and concurrent agency reviews;
  • Requires issuance of all other permits within 180 days of finishing the NEPA process;
  • Sets the 150-day statute of limitations for court challenges;
  • Requires the President to designate and prioritize reviews for a list of strategically important energy and mineral projects;
  • Specifies procedures for state certification that projects comply with applicable water quality standards; and
  • Requires federal agencies to issue all approval and permits necessary for the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The legislation will be attached to a continuing resolution that must be passed before the end of the month to avoid a partial government shutdown. Democrats concerned with combatting climate change have already voiced opposition and many Republicans have dismissed the bill as non-substantive or less than adequate when compared to the START Act.

For more information, contact Alex Etchen at [email protected].

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