Biden infrastructure adviser: Speed up clean energy permits

By Robin Bravender | 05/12/2023 04:08 PM EDT

“On the executive branch side, we’re doing everything we can to speed up how we actually greenlight projects,” White House senior adviser Mitch Landrieu said.

Mitch Landrieu

White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu speaks during a briefing at the White House on Friday. Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Count President Joe Biden’s senior infrastructure adviser Mitch Landrieu among the administration officials eager to see action to speed up the process for approving energy projects.

Landrieu, a former New Orleans mayor who’s leading the White House coordination of the huge bipartisan infrastructure law, stressed the administration’s desire to overhaul the process as permitting talks are heating up on Capitol Hill. Republicans are hopeful that they might be able to include permitting reform as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) wants to advance his permitting overhaul effort this summer.

“When you’re trying to build new things and you’re trying to build things fast, you got two major issues that you’re working through,” Landrieu said Friday at a White House press briefing. “One of them is permitting, and one of them is workforce. And of course from the beginning, we have been working on getting things built faster and permitting things faster.”


That includes a desire to move faster on clean energy, Landrieu said.

Biden supports Manchin’s legislation that would overhaul the permitting process. The West Virginia Democrat said this week that he wants to get a permitting reform bill on the Senate floor before the summer recess.

“The president continues to support that bill,” Landrieu said Friday. “On the executive branch side, we’re doing everything we can to speed up how we actually greenlight projects.”

White House senior adviser John Podesta, who’s leading the rollout of the climate and clean energy law enacted last year, also urged lawmakers this week to negotiate a deal to speed up the sometimes cumbersome permitting process. But Podesta stressed that he did not want the permitting talks to be tied to the debt ceiling negotiations.

“We think everything needs to be delinked from the debt ceiling fight,” Podesta said Wednesday.

Asked Friday about permitting reform and negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, Landrieu said, “They’re not necessarily connected.”

Landrieu also defended the Biden administration’s draft climate rules for power plants that EPA unveiled Thursday.

“Everything requires a balance,” Landrieu said in response to criticisms from industry that the rules could raise energy prices and threaten the energy supply.

“With everything that we do, somebody will say you’re going too fast. Somebody will say you’re going too slow,” Landrieu said. “Our job is to try to get it just right.”

Marty Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, said Thursday that the proposals to slash greenhouse gas emissions from power plants “go too far, too fast,” and could harm “the entire economy.”

Biden praised the EPA draft rules Thursday at an event in the White House Rose Garden.

“This announcement kicks off a public commitment to engage with labor and industry and environmentalists and other experts to make sure we make a major step forward in the climate crisis, protecting public health,” the president said.