Leaked Draft Permitting Deal from WaPo: What’s in There and Would it Work?

Here’s a leaked copy of draft legislation for permitting “side deal”.. maybe someone want to read through this and figure out what it means and whether or not it is likely to help?

Here’s a link to a WaPo article:

According to our old friend Rep. Raul Grijalva, there seems to be no middle ground.

“Destroying NEPA has long been on Republicans’ wish list,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the House Natural Resources Committee’s chairman, said in a recent interview. “But now, in a bizarre twist of history, Democrats are in a position to deliver on that agenda.”

Here’s what the WaPo says about the contents:

The leaked draft of the bill, which bears the watermark of the American Petroleum Institute, would shorten environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act and require President Biden to designate 25 energy projects of “strategic national importance,” among other provisions.

And responses of groups.. but is a deal a deal or not? Is it too late to go back on the deal? Were groups negotiating in good faith, or are these different groups?

A coalition of 650 climate groups on Wednesday sent a letter to Democratic leadership expressing “strenuous opposition” to the deal. Earthjustice, an environmental law organization, has also circulated an analysis of how the permitting proposal could accelerate the approval of fossil fuel projects, according to a copy of the analysis obtained by The Post.

“There’s a misconception right now that we won’t be able to build out the clean energy infrastructure we desperately need unless we roll back environmental laws,” said Earthjustice President Abbie Dillen.

But Heather Zichal, a former White House climate adviser who is now the chief executive of the American Clean Power Association, said the permitting proposal will play an essential role in realizing the benefits of the climate bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act.

“There are so many terrific new opportunities for clean energy deployment within the Inflation Reduction Act,” Zichal said. “If you don’t have a parallel call to modernize the way these projects are permitted, it’s hard for me to see that these projects will come online in a timely manner.”

It looks like it’s “clean” power supporters vs. the “current permitting processes as sacred” groups.. I think it will be hard for either to argue from a position of moral superiority. Which will be a welcome relief, at least to some of us.

4 thoughts on “Leaked Draft Permitting Deal from WaPo: What’s in There and Would it Work?”

  1. It should be absolutely clear that the 650 groups that signed the letter opposing the Manchin Dirty Deal are not the same corporate NGOs (i.e. The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, et al) that went behind closed doors to hash out the details of the IRA, which, due to all the fossil fuel and extractive industry giveaways, is an energy development bill, NOT a climate mitigation bill.

    “Prolonging the fossil fuel era perpetuates environmental racism, is wildly out of step with climate science, and hamstrings our nation’s ability to avert a climate disaster.”


  2. Sharon, I’m not sure I understand why this is a welcome relief: “I think it will be hard for either to argue from a position of moral superiority. Which will be a welcome relief, at least to some of us.”

    Gary, what are the fossil fuel and extractive industry giveaways? And is this legislation worse than no legislation, which was the other option?

  3. If the problem is things taking too long, I’d like to see if hiring more people speeds things up before taking environmental shortcuts.

    I skimmed this to get an overall sense, and that sense is that it does not try to take substantive environmental shortcuts. It seems to emphasize using existing authorities to be more efficient. It does require that schedules be set for the NEPA process that should (but not must) meet certain timelines, but here is the bottom line: “(G) FAILURE TO MEET DEADLINE.—If a participating Federal agency fails to meet a deadline established under subparagraph (C), the participating Federal agency shall notify the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary concerned regarding that failure.” There is new statutory deadline for filing a lawsuit. A lot of this deals with interagency coordination – improving the bureaucracy. And it requires national prioritization of projects (which should be a good “planning” thing). Maybe there’s a poison pill lurking somewhere, but it didn’t jump out at me.

    • Thanks, Jon, this was really helpful!! I didn’t see anything like the “end of NEPA as we know it” either, but needed someone else to take a look.


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