Does Environmental Permitting Reform have a Chance?

Democratic leaders promised Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) a vote on environmental permitting reform for his vote on the Inflation Reduction Act and Senate Republicans have a bill for him to consider.

During the debate of the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden, Leader Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi committed to Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to advance legislation that would include several permitting reforms for energy infrastructure. However, the text of the bill has yet to be released.

In the meantime, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) recently introduced the Simplify Timelines and Assure Regulatory Transparency (START) Act. Some key reforms included in the START Act include:

  • Makes permanent law the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule’s definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act;
  • Prohibits the use and adoption of the Biden Administration’s interim estimates for the “social cost of greenhouse gases” and any other estimates that may raise gasoline prices;
  • Codifies key elements of the One Federal Decision framework for energy projects; and
  • Grants states the sole authority to promulgate or enforce any regulation, guidance, or permit requirement regarding hydraulic fracturing on or under any land within their boundaries.

While the START Act is supported by most Republican Senators, it does not appear to have a path to passing the full U.S. Senate. That means that we will have to keep waiting to see the details of the proposal from Senator Manchin. While we do not have the details of that bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated it will be attached to a must-pass government funding bill.

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

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