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Sen. Joe Manchin is attempting to accelerate federal permitting for energy projects, including one in his home state of West Virginia, renewing the effort he failed to shepherd through the Senate last year.
The measure, which Democrat Manchin is announcing Tuesday, is the same version he tried in vain to attach to must-pass annual defense policy legislation (Public Law 117-263) late last year. It would set a maximum of two years for reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act for major energy projects and one year for “lower-impact projects,” according to a summary of the legislation.
The bill also would impose a 150-day limit on court challenges to energy projects as well as authorize the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the long-delayed and controversial natural gas project that would run through Manchin’s state and Virginia.
Manchin’s legislation is likely to face the same resistance it did last year from progressive Democrats worried about undermining NEPA and the litigation avenue for communities affected by projects. Democratic and Republican senators have expressed concern over greenlighting a specific energy project—the Mountain Valley Pipeline—in the legislation.
The Republican-led House in March passed H.R. 1, which would modify federal environmental reviews and allow expansion of domestic energy and critical mineral production.
Manchin’s bill would streamline the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority to approve national interest transmission lines in a bid to attract support from Democrats worried about getting clean energy projects up and running.
Manchin, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he is “confident” the bill will lead to fruitful negotiations.
“There is overwhelming bipartisan recognition that our current permitting processes aren’t working, and equally bipartisan support for addressing it through comprehensive permitting reform legislation,” he said in a statement.
The White House last year supported Manchin’s permitting legislation.
The Environment and Public Works Committee, which along with Manchin’s panel will take the lead on crafting permitting proposals, held a hearing on the matter last week.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kellie Lunney in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org