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Energy permitting could be the political fight of the summer

by

Daily Caller News Foundation

Major players in both parties are set to make permitting reforms a top priority as Congress returns from its 4th of July recess, E&E News reported Monday.

After House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden agreed to a deal in late May to raise the debt ceiling that included a handful of Republican permitting measures, lawmakers have begun hosting informal, across-the-aisle talks about next steps, E&E News reported. While the exact details are unclear, permitting reform — particularly with respect to energy projects — is an increasingly important issue for both parties, and Democrats are hopeful that progress will be made this month, the outlet reported, citing a Democratic aide familiar with the informal negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called in a Sunday letter to his colleagues for a slate of “bipartisan bills” including permitting reform, the ongoing fentanyl crisis, “cannabis banking” and competition with China.

“Passing these bills will not be easy, and we will depend on cooperation of our Republican colleagues to get any of them done,” Schumer wrote.

Environmental groups are pushing Democrats to focus on upgrading the nation’s transmission lines — a key part of their renewable energy agenda — while Republicans have called for scaling back environmental measures in the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act, E&E News reported. Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming told the outlet last month that he and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia were working on permitting reform for “all sources of energy,” although they were “still working on the timeline.”

Permitting has been a particularly important issue to Manchin, who has repeatedly introduced legislation designed to streamline the process for energy projects, although political conditions have stumped the senator each time even with White House backing. Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan last week harshly criticized the White House for fast-tracking the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a major fossil fuel project that had been beset by environmental delays and which Manchin had long advocated for the approval of.

While leaders in both parties have called for bipartisanship on this issue, environmental issues are likely to be a sticking point during negotiations, E&E News reported. Democrats would be particularly vulnerable to blowback from green groups if they ceded substantial ground on environmental regulations.

“I think there’s way more opportunity for it all to fall apart than for it to come together,” Nick Loris, vice president of public policy at conservative environmentalist policy group C3 Solutions, told E&E News.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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