Biden revamps permitting in boost for clean energy

By Kevin Bogardus | 04/30/2024 05:00 AM EDT

The White House has finalized a long-anticipated rule designed to expedite permits for infrastructure projects.

Brenda Mallory.

Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory said the new rule will "help speed infrastructure and permitting, but without losing sight of the environmental and health benefits we need to protect." Francis Chung/POLITICO

President Joe Biden has launched his history-making rule to revamp the country’s foundational environmental law as his administration seeks to build out clean energy and combat climate change.

On Tuesday, the White House finalized its “Phase 2” revisions for the National Environmental Policy Act’s regulations, which top officials believe will speed up permitting for key infrastructure projects while maintaining environmental protections. The rule is considered a cornerstone of Biden’s green agenda as he mounts his 2024 reelection bid and is likely to face resistance from Republican lawmakers and industry trade associations.

Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule will facilitate agencies moving faster on permits for infrastructure that can help the environment, thereby defying the conventional wisdom that government bureaucracy is slow.


“We are making reforms in this rule that will help speed infrastructure and permitting, but without losing sight of the environmental and health benefits we need to protect,” Mallory told reporters Monday.

The rule implements last year’s debt ceiling deal that Biden negotiated with GOP leaders, including setting clear deadlines and page limits for environmental reviews as well as establishing one lead agency to handle such reviews.

In addition, climate impacts have to be considered as part of the review process under the rule.

Agencies also have to consider environmental justice — the movement to assist disadvantaged areas long burdened with pollution — as part of their reviews as well as conduct outreach to those places.

Biden’s regulation also reverses parts of the 2020 NEPA rule crafted by the Trump administration, which Mallory said were “legally questionable” and “jeopardized community input.”