WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today led a hearing on federal actions to improve coordination, predictability, and efficiency in the environmental review and permitting process.
ON WHY PERMITTING REFORM IS URGENTLY NEEDED:
“During our first permitting hearing just three weeks ago, we learned that our nation currently has two terawatts of clean energy power sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be connected to our electric grid. We also learned at that first hearing that many communities still do not have a seat at the table, and they need to be heard during the permitting process. I believe we can do better, and we must do better. Fortunately, President Biden agrees, as do many of our colleagues.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF INCLUDING TRANSMISSION IN PERMITTING REFORM:
“I believe that a successful permitting reform proposal must accomplish at least three objectives. First, any serious proposal must reduce greenhouse gas emissions while upholding our nation's bedrock environmental statutes. That includes addressing transmission barriers that make it harder for renewables to connect to the grid. Second, that proposal must support early and meaningful community engagement. And, third, the legislation must provide businesses with the certainty and predictability that they need to make informed long-term decisions.”
ON PRESERVING ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS:
“We can achieve efficiencies without gutting any existing laws, and that’s what we need to do. Unfortunately, a number of recent proposals—mostly from our friends over in the House of Representatives—aim to streamline the permitting process using very blunt tools and setting up what I believe is a false choice. If enacted, they may well strip away bedrock environmental protections under laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA … It is my heartfelt belief that we can provide businesses and communities with greater certainty by using a more targeted approach. And, I hope that’s exactly what we will do.”
ON THE NEED FOR EARLY COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT:
Chairman Tom Carper:
“Would you address for us please the importance of early engagement, something we heard a lot about in our first hearing and how legislation could help support early engagement?”
The Honorable Brenda Mallory, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality:
“One of the foundations of the National Environmental Policy Act is a belief that there is a value to the participatory process and to the ability of people to be able to speak to their government about the ways in which actions that the government is planning can be improved. And so we have emphasized from the beginning of the NEPA regulatory process the need for—and value of—early engagement. Early and often is a phrase that is often said in our action plan that we released last year … We believe that this is a mechanism for allowing projects not to get so far down a path that there is any misunderstanding about what the community believes is important.”
Click here to watch Chairman Carper’s first round of questions.
Click here to watch Chairman Carper’s second round of questions.
Click here to watch Chairman Carper’s opening statement.