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17 Years Is Too Long to Wait for a Permit

A power line and wind farm project first conceived in 2006 finally received a critical permit this month—a perfect example of why we need permitting reform, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management gave the green light [last] Thursday for a high-voltage power line [in the SunZia project]. The permit allows the developer, Pattern Energy, to build the country’s largest wind energy project across three counties in rural New Mexico and deliver that electricity to large markets in Arizona and California.”

  • Developers applied for federal approval in 2008, and the Obama administration “fast-tracked” the project four years later.
  • Pattern Energy plans to start construction later this year.

Why it’s important: SunZia is emblematic of a flawed system, one which President Biden and legislators are now trying to fix, according to the Journal.

  • “The labyrinthine state, local and federal permitting processes are often drawn out for years, require duplicative paperwork and generate thousands of pages of government analysis. The average federal environmental review, for example, takes 4½ years, according to a 2020 White House report.”
  • Earlier this month, the White House recommended changes it said would help speed the approval of transmission projects.

What they’re saying: “‘The White House doesn’t have a prayer of implementing the infrastructure bill or the [Inflation Reduction Act] without permitting reform,’ said Rep. Garret Graves (R., La.), a lead Republican negotiator in the debt-ceiling talks. ‘And anyone who’s actually out there trying to build things will tell you that.’”

What we’re doing: The NAM has been one of the foremost voices urging permitting reform on Capitol Hill.

  • NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons recently testified before Congress on the topic and outlined manufacturing priorities for overhauling the permitting process.
  • At another recent congressional hearing, NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Brandon Farris told legislators, “Streamlining and modernizing our nation’s permitting laws and procedures will help us advance many of our nation’s shared priorities, improving the quality of life for all communities; modernizing our infrastructure; achieving energy security; ramping up critical mineral production; enhancing manufacturing competitiveness; and creating manufacturing jobs in the U.S.”
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