The Biden administration on Wednesday announced its priorities for federal energy permitting reform, saying it will prioritize updating mining laws and streamlining renewables permitting on federal lands.
The administration outlined 11 priorities Wednesday, including faster deployment of electrical transmission across state lines. This would include regional transfer agreements that would avert incidents like the knockout of Texas’s independent power grid during winter storms in 2021.
The White House also called on Congress to update the Energy Act of 2020 to set goals for renewable energy development on federal lands in 2030 and 2035. It also called for new hydrogen and carbon dioxide infrastructure development, elimination of duplicative environmental reviews and improved community engagement.
In remarks Wednesday at the Bipartisan Policy Center, White House clean energy adviser John Podesta said the delays caused by the current permitting process “are pervasive at every level of government,” adding “we got so good at stopping projects we forgot how to build things in America.”
Podesta emphasized the necessity of cooperation from Congress to achieve most of the priorities, saying “this administration is doing all it can with the tools we have but frankly we could use some more tools. We need Congress to give us those tools.”
Podesta added that the White House backs permitting-reform legislation introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.); Republicans killed the legislation 2022, but the West Virginia Democrat reintroduced it recently.
“The president doesn’t love everything in the bill but we support it because that’s what compromise means and it will take compromise on everyone’s part to get this done,” he said.
Podesta also specifically highlighted the need for updated mining permitting regulations, noting the current framework was enacted in 1872.
“The administration will make more specific recommendations on mining law reform soon but suffice it to say, even though the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant are still on recommending reading lists, mining legislation he signed more than 150 years ago is a little out of date,” Podesta said.
Podesta also heavily criticized the energy bill introduced by House Republicans, HB1, which was recently included in the package proposed by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to avoid a default on the federal debt. Podesta said the bill’s proposals would be “catastrophic for our economy” and would ensure that “EVs [electric vehicles] of the future are powered by Chinese batteries and critical minerals.”
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