Chairman Inhofe, thank you for holding this hearing today. I also want to thank our witnesses for coming to testify about this very important issue on reviewing energy project permitting.
As our economy continues to grow, so does our energy consumption. Improving the permitting process for developing energy sources is critical if we are going to meet our nation’s increasing energy demands. By refining the permitting process, our nation could focus on producing more energy domestically and reducing our reliance on foreign energy sources.
Unfortunately, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process has created obstacles that are costly, slow progress and even block projects rather than assess their environmental impact and move forward. The permitting process needs to be realistic and achievable if we intend to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources and increase our domestic energy productivity.
Cooperation among Federal and state agencies could simplify the permitting process by focusing on common energy objectives that would eliminate conflicting agendas that hold up the approval and review process. Participating agencies working together could improve factors such as certainty and timeliness that impact the permitting process. However, a definite timeline would provide greater certainty for the review process since it is frustrating when not all of the participating agencies respond in a timely manner when issuing permits. Without processing the permits in a timely manner, development of necessary energy infrastructure could be delayed and even financially cripple the project.
In Louisiana, we need to take advantage of advancements in technology to increase domestic production of our natural gas reserves. Increasing domestic production will reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources and create jobs for a stronger economy.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about their experiences and suggestions for improving the permitting process. Once again, thank you, Mr. Chairman for your efforts to organize this hearing.