‘Virtually Impossible’: Chuck Schumer Shoots Down Efforts To Streamline Permitting Process For Key Energy Projects

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer effectively declared major permitting reform dead on Monday, Politico reported.

It will be “virtually impossible” to reach a bipartisan permitting reform deal in the near future, Schumer told Politico. Permitting reform, which could benefit both green and fossil fuel-related energy projects, has been a topic of interest to some lawmakers like Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso.

“I am happy to listen, but I’ve told Joe Manchin it’s going to be virtually impossible to get something done,” Schumer said in response to a question from Politico.

Comprehensive permitting reform is a potential area for bipartisan compromise because reasonably streamlining the permitting process would benefit all types of energy projects, according to the Institute for Progress. Proponents of green energy would be happy to see simplifications that would facilitate the transmission infrastructure needed to bring new renewables projects on to the grid, while other lawmakers could reduce the costly regulatory burden surrounding construction of fossil fuel-related projects like natural gas pipelines.

As the two most senior members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin and Barrasso have negotiated on permitting reform for a considerable amount of time, and permitting reform was a priority item for Schumer as recently as last July. However, a new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rule that figures to make it easier to build out green power infrastructure may have reduced the incentive for Democrats to make concessions as part of a prospective compromise.

FERC’s newest rule, approved by a 2-1 vote on Monday, is intended to make regional power grid planning more cohesive after complex federal and state laws had impeded efforts to get green energy projects hooked up to the grid, according to E&E News. The rule is poised to help the Biden administration’s ambitious green energy goals, which include having the U.S. power sector reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2035.

While Schumer applauded the rule, Barrasso criticized it sharply, characterizing it as “the holy grail for liberal politicians in California and New York and corporate executives who want others to foot the bill for their climate obsession.”

“If permitting reform is dead, Senator Schumer and Senate Democrats killed it,” Barrasso said in a statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “I made multiple balanced offers to achieve real reform that would spur American energy transmission and production, and help drive down costs for the American people.”

Schumer’s office and FERC did not respond immediately to requests for comment.


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