Legislative Announcements

Manchin Releases Text for Energy Permitting Reform 

Update by Meguire Whitney 

On Sept. 21, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) released the long-awaited bill text for his permitting reform package. The bill largely followed Manchin’s previously released permitting outline, and would:  

  • Set maximum timelines for permitting reviews required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 
  • Make requirement clarifications to the Clean Air Act. 
  • Clarify FERC jurisdiction for interstate hydrogen pipeline, storage, and import and export facilities. 
  • Approve completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia. 
  • Allow the Department of Energy to unilaterally grant a permit for a transmission line that the Secretary has determined to be in the national interest, even before states have had an opportunity to do their own reviews of the project. 
  • Direct the president to create and update a list of 25 or more energy infrastructure projects and to prioritize the permitting needed to complete them.   

Senate Democratic leadership still intends to attach the language to the upcoming continuing resolution (CR) that must pass before Sept. 30. However, many members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, are opposed to attaching the permitting changes to a CR, with attacks from both parties ramping up now that the bill text has been released.  


Senate Republicans Voice Opposition to Combined CR and Permitting Reform 

Update by Meguire Whitney 

Several Senate Republicans have come forward saying that they would not support a CR to fund the government beyond Sept. 30 with Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) energy permitting reforms attached and are speculating that it will not get the 10 Republican votes needed to pass in the Senate. Streamlining the permitting process has long been supported by the Republican party, although several senators are citing “bad blood” after the surprise deal Manchin made with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Inflation Reduction Act. The Senate is expected to move first on a CR to avert a shutdown on Oct. 1, likely extending current government funding through Dec. 16. Senate votes on the CR likely won’t happen until the week of Sept. 26, giving little time for the House to vote before the Sept. 30 deadline. 


States Raise Concerns for National Interest Transmission Lines  

Update by Meguire Whitney 

Tension between the Biden administration and state utility officials over “national interest” electric transmission lines has increased since the release of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) energy permitting overhaul. The reforms include language that would allow DOE to grant a permit for a transmission line of “national interest” and allow FERC to award construction permits before states have had an opportunity to do their own reviews of a project. If those provisions in the permitting reforms are passed, state officials could lose siting authority over certain projects. The Biden administration has argued that the change would speed permitting of some electric transmission lines, however, Greg White, executive director of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, has argued that it does nothing to solve delays from legal challenges under the National Environmental Policy Act. However, the permitting reforms do include language that would set a 150-day statute of limitations for court challenges and requires courts to enforce a 180-day deadline for agencies to act on vacated permits. 


Gabe Klein to Lead Joint Office of Energy and Transportation 

Update by Meguire Whitney 

On Sept. 20, DOE and the Department of Transportation announced the appointment of Gabe Klein to lead the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. Klein has previously served as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation and director of the Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation. The Joint Office was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to oversee the $7.5 billion appropriated to build a national EV charging network as well as other vehicle electrification programs at DOE and DOT. The Joint Office is also charged with providing technical assistance and support for EV infrastructure deployment to state and local governments. 


Agencies Announce Memo to Reduce GHGs from Transportation 

Update by Meguire Whitney 

On Sept. 16, President Joe Biden announced a memorandum of understanding between DOE, DOT, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, the industry with the largest carbon footprint in the country. The federal agencies agreed to release an outline within the next 90 days detailing a strategy to decarbonize the transportation sector, including the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of lower-emissions technologies. The memo will also act as a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investment guide for the agencies. 

 


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