Climate Relief Can’t Wait for Utopia
From The Atlantic:
Yet permitting reform requires loosening regulations and laws that many environmentalists hold dear. The National Environmental Policy Act requires reviews that give enormous power to anyone who wants to block or delay a proposed energy project, either out of genuine social concern or for self-interested reasons. In practice, it is a major bottleneck to building clean-energy infrastructure. According to an analysis of government data by the R Street Institute, 65 percent of the energy projects categorized as either “in progress” or “planned” are related to renewable energy, and 16 percent have to do with electricity transmission. And nearly 20 times as much offshore wind power is held up in permitting as is currently in operation or under construction. U.S. climate spending could exceed more than half a trillion dollars by the end of this decade—but without permitting reform, those investments won’t translate into much physical infrastructure. A new permitting-reform measure put forth by Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has drawn criticism for fast-tracking some specific fossil-fuel projects, such as the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, but in general clean-energy infrastructure has much more to gain relative to fossil fuels by streamlining permitting, because so much of it still needs to be built.