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Biden's signature climate law has a major Achilles heel, and the Dems are making it worse

President Joe Biden's landmark climate bill is being held back by a lack of comprehensive permitting reform, the absence of which is enabling environmental lawsuits that block green energy projects subsidized by the legislation.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) contained hundreds of billions of dollars to subsidize green energy projects across the country, but the bill did not include significant reform to the permitting process that would speed construction timelines and insulate developments from environmental legal challenges. Unless congressional Democrats can negotiate a reform package with Republicans in an election year, these issues will continue to hurt IRA implementation, energy policy experts and stakeholders told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Once solar and wind developments are built, they must be connected to the grid via transmission lines to feed power into the grid. Allowing the reform would speed up the lengthy paperwork process for such a conveyance, as well as provide developers with an additional layer of protection against environmental lawsuits that also disrupt the construction of green energy developments.

However, that reform has yet to happen, thanks in part to the inability of congressional Democrats to agree among themselves on what that reform should look like to counter the Republican proposals. seconds in E&E News.

“I think not having any transmission reform is a big barrier to implementing the IRA,” Isaac Orr, a policy analyst at the Center for the American Experiment who specializes in energy policy, told the DCNF. “I think it was understood that enabling the reform was necessary to implement a lot of the things the Democrats wanted as soon as they got the IRA… It's a physical reality that you need transmission to get all that new capacity into the grid .”

The lack of reform has left many green energy developments open to legal challenges brought by environmental groups, who will often pursue similar legal strategies adopted by opponents of fossil fuel infrastructure projects in the past.

For example, a coalition of tribes and environmental organizations are plaintiff to block a $10 billion massive transmission project in Arizona, while different coalitions have gone to court alleging violations of environmental laws by offshore wind developers building wind farms in offshore waters of virginia i Massachusetts. Elsewhere in the country, conservation groups have continued the years-long fight against Wisconsin's Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line. plaintiff the government to stop construction.

“Reforms aimed at streamlining the federal government's permitting decision-making process and discouraging frivolous litigation have the potential not only to improve regulatory efficiency, but also to achieve greater certainty and predictability in the offshore wind sector” , Erik Milito, president of the National. Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) told the DCNF. “Litigation, particularly around alleged deficiencies in the National Environmental Policy Act, has been a significant obstacle to offshore wind projects. A robust offshore wind market in the United States depends on trust and certainty in the permitting process and regulation, which is essential to foster growth and ensure the success of these projects, like any other major infrastructure endeavor.”

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a leading proponent of comprehensive permit reform, has tested advance legislation to streamline the authorization process and minimize opportunities for litigation in order to meet deadlines for all types of energy projects.

In all, there are no less than ten different permitting-related bills in Congress and two major regulatory initiatives underway at the federal level, but progress in streamlining the permitting process is still very slow. seconds in Utility Dive.

“All these things, the Clean Water Act, the way the National Environmental Policy Act is being run now … nothing can be built because of these statutes,” Mike McKenna, a Republican strategist with extensive experience in the energy sector and its surroundings. , told the DCNF about congressional obstruction in authorizing the reform.

“So we're about a year into what I think will be a seven- to eight-year process, where everybody on the left is starting to figure out, 'Oh my God, those guys were right, you can't build one. of these things.”

Neither the White House nor the Energy Department responded to requests for comment.

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