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Permitting Reform: The New Sign of Bipartisanship in DC

The recent debt ceiling bill demonstrated how both Republicans and Democrats are willing to find compromise on energy infrastructure. Debt ceiling legislation typically involves negotiations on a borrowing limit and spending caps. However, recent debates surrounding the debt ceiling have brought to the forefront an issue that transcends party lines: the need for permitting reform.

Permitting refers to the process by which businesses and individuals obtain licenses, approvals, and clearances to undertake infrastructure projects. It can range from construction permits to environmental impact assessments. While permitting is essential for ensuring safety, protecting the environment, and upholding regulatory standards, its currently seen as cumbersome and time-consuming – oftentimes stopping projects before they even get started.

One of the striking aspects of the recent debt ceiling bill is the shared frustration expressed by both Republicans and Democrats regarding permitting processes. Here are a few reasons why both sides are so eager to come to the table on permitting reform:

Economic Growth and Job Creation: Both parties recognize that streamlining permitting processes can unlock economic growth and create jobs. The current system often leads to unnecessary delays and cost overruns, discouraging investment and hindering job creation. By expediting the permitting process, the government can encourage private sector innovation and investment.

Infrastructure Development: Infrastructure has been a key topic of discussion across party lines. Historic funding is available for infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, but these funds will remain untapped if permitting is not addressed. Changes to the current process could expedite project timelines, reduce costs, and improve the overall efficiency of infrastructure initiatives.

Environmental Conservation: Environmentalists have critiqued language within the debt ceiling legislation as pulling back environmental protections. However, future legislation addressing this issue will likely have clearer guidelines and guardrails included to ensure projects are environmentally responsible.

So, what comes next? The bipartisan recognition of the need for permitting reform is a crucial first step. The challenge now lies in translating this recognition into concrete action. It will require lawmakers to develop complementary policies to the language within the debt ceiling – primarily around transmission – and find the support and, perhaps most importantly, floor time to move additional legislation forward.

This process will likely involve comprehensive discussions, expert input, and stakeholder engagement. It will require finding common ground on specific reform measures, such as implementing time limits for permitting decisions, improving coordination between different agencies involved in the process, and leveraging technology to streamline procedures.

If your organization or company is impacted by the federal permitting process, now is the time to meet with members of Congress and administration officials in DC.

Furthermore, it will be essential to establish a mechanism for regular evaluation and review of the effectiveness of the reformed permitting process. This will allow for continuous improvement and adjustments based on real-world experiences and feedback from those directly affected by the permitting system. The debt ceiling language is only the beginning. It’s a complicated process and finding the right solutions will take time, likely multiple pieces of legislation, and continued political will.


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