Inside Sources Explainer: The importance of reform in permitting, and why it matters

Aug 23, 2023, 1:09 PM

What is permitting reform?...

Solar panels work near the small town of Milagro, Navarra Province, northern Spain, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023.

SALT LAKE CITY — Congress is back after a two-week recess and one of the big items on the agenda deals with an important issue for both sides, permitting reform.

But what is it?

Last month Congress was able to prevent going into default days before the U.S. ran out of money. Now, Congress is already working on the next agreement, and they are hoping to include more measures including energy permitting reform, as must-pass legislation.

What is energy permitting?

Energy permitting is the term used to describe the comprehensive set of environmental and technical authorizations required for major energy projects like wind farms, solar energy, electrical transmission lines, or gas pipelines.

Energy permitting is a big issue for Democrats and Republicans, and they both agree that it currently takes too long to build new energy infrastructure in the US. The average wait for a project is five years to get all the necessary approvals and permits.

A bill was passed in May with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives to incentivize new projects.

Both parties’ disagreements come from the energy projects that need to be prioritized and approved. Republicans prefer more gas pipelines and fossil fuel projects, while Democrats want renewal energy projects to move the country to cleaner energy use.

What is happening in Congress

After a two-week recess, legislators are ready to begin negotiations, and at the top of the list is permitting reform. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, wrote in a letter that efforts to “unlock permitting reform” would be a focus ahead of the August recess.

Congressman John Curtis’ Chief of Staff Corey Norman joined Inside Sources to explain what Congress needs to do to remove some of the red tape on permitting reform. 

Norman said Congress is poised to solve some of the difficulties. As a result, permitting reform is already enabling faster approval from government entities, including projects here in Utah.

According to Norman, Democrats used to slow down reform. But many of the projects now include clean energy.

Republicans like these projects, but they are also realistic about the fact that most of the energy right comes from oil and coal.


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Inside Sources Explainer: The importance of reform in permitting, and why it matters