Schumer throws cold water on big permitting package

By Kelsey Brugger | 05/13/2024 04:08 PM EDT

After praising a new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rule, the Senate leader downplayed the prospects of a grid and permitting deal in Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had pressured the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct rulemaking to bolster the grid. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday all but dismissed the prospect of a big, bipartisan permitting package this Congress.

On a press call to celebrate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s landmark transmission rule, the New York Democrat said compromise legislation to help expand the grid’s ability to carry renewable energy and also accelerate project approvals was highly unlikely.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has been working on such an accord since the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022.


Schumer said, “I told Joe Manchin that I’m happy to listen, but it’s going to be virtually impossible to get anything done.”

Schumer blamed Republicans for blocking progress on a deal. GOP members have remained skeptical of Democratic grid legislation and also want deep concessions, including further changes to the National Environmental Policy Act.

“I think FERC [rulemaking] was the necessary and nearly only way to go,” he said, adding, “maybe things will change after the election.”

Schumer had urged FERC to work on the transmission planning rule as a Plan B option to the protracted permitting and grid negotiations.

Still, Manchin — who is retiring — is not giving up on finding common ground with Energy and Natural Resources ranking member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and others.