West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin recently released a proposal that intends to streamline the federal permitting process for energy projects, as well as fast-track a pipeline that would impact his home state.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer intends to add the legislative text to a short-term spending bill that must pass by the end of September to avert a government shutdown.
Schumer agreed to pass Manchin’s permitting overhaul plan in order to win his support for the sweeping $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, that passed in August.
But it’s unclear if Schumer and Manchin can secure the votes needed to pass the permitting plan, as Republicans and Democratic progressives have voiced opposition.
Here’s what the proposal would do, according to a summary provided by Manchin’s office.
The plan instructs the President to select 25 energy projects of strategic national importance for priority federal review.
The proposal calls for a “target” time frame for how long the federal government takes to review energy projects that require permits.
It sets a two-year target for projects that require reviews from more than one federal agency, including a full environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act, and a one-year target for projects that require an environmental assessment.
The current average permitting time for a pipeline project is 3.5 years, according to the Progressive Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank.
Manchin also proposes a 150-day time limit for court challenges after a project is authorized. It would also require courts to set and enforce a schedule of no more than 180 days for agencies to act on remanded or vacated permits.
The legislation would require federal agencies to issue “all approval and permits necessary” for the construction of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, the bill summary said. The long-delayed natural gas pipeline project would cross through West Virginia and Virginia if completed.
The project is already under way but has been successfully challenged in court for years. The legislation would essentially fast-track the permits needed for completion.