Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin released his long-promised permitting reform plan this evening.
Democratic leaders promised Manchin to pursue permitting reform legislation in exchange for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to include the permitting language in a continuing resolution to keep the government open.
The West Virginia Democrat’s text reveals further details about provisions outlined in a draft summary released this summer. The latest bill, however, doesn’t stray far from Manchin’s long-standing demands.
The legislation would direct federal agencies “to issue all approval and permits” for the nearly complete Mountain Valley pipeline, which would carry natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia.
When it comes to National Environmental Policy Act reviews, the bill would direct the administration to instate shot clocks and page counts.
The bill would create a White House priority list for key projects. It also includes requirements for transmission lines, water quality permits, hydrogen energy and mining, according to a summary.
Previewing the legislation Tuesday, Manchin addressed concerns from environmentalists about hampering environmental reviews.
Manchin said, “Do we throw caution to the wind? No. Did we make you go through the environmental process? Yes, we just accelerate the time.”
Progressives have come out against the legislation and are particularly opposed to coupling it with a must-pass spending bill. And even though many Republicans have long supported permitting reform, they have repeatedly questioned Manchin’s effort.
Manchin this week said some lawmakers who have been critical of the permitting reform push may be seeking revenge for his involvement in the Inflation Reduction Act (E&E Daily, Sept. 21).
“This is a bipartisan bill,” Manchin said Tuesday. “[It] doesn’t pass without the Republicans.”
Reporter Jeremy Dillon contributed.