After analyzing the debt ceiling agreement reached between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy, SAFE issued the following statement from Founder and CEO Robbie Diamond:
“SAFE is pleased by the inclusion of key permitting reform provisions in the agreement to address the debt ceiling. This is a good first step and we hope it sets the stage for more comprehensive bipartisan legislation to address the nation’s opaque, convoluted federal permitting system. Particularly it is encouraging to see movement towards the development of a more efficient and transparent “E-NEPA” process involving new digital technologies and updates. SAFE hopes that the pilot project results in a permanent publicly available online permitting dashboard that covers ALL Federal infrastructure and energy projects, like the dashboard made available to the public under FAST-41.
While the agreement takes some impactful steps, it’s important that this not be viewed as the job being done. Congress and the White House need to build on this progress by taking further action required to develop a secure and robust supply chain for the materials we’ll need to support the transition to a clean energy future. This should include judicial review timelines alongside requiring earlier community engagement and participation in the NEPA process. Studies have found this reduces the number of project-delaying legal challenges later in the process. It should also address challenges facing America’s national transmission grid, to include the SAFE priorities of transmission deployment, cost allocation, and FERC sitting authority changes. Additionally, the FAST-41 statutory list of projects still does not include critical mineral mining, processing, refining, and recycling. Also still to be addressed is new funding for land management agencies explicitly to hire and train new workforce to enable faster NEPA reviews and shorter timelines.
These and other crucial permitting reform provisions should be addressed in a comprehensive legislative package as soon as practicable. This bipartisan compromise has averted a disastrous national debt default and made incremental progress on some important policy issues. Now it is time for our leaders in Washington to not lose sense of the urgency for additional changes essential to building energy supply chains and infrastructure for America’s economic and national security.”