Barrasso and Lummis Announce Support for Republican Permitting Reform Bill
Announced in a press release, both of Wyoming's Senators, John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, joined other Republicans in the Senate in introducing legislation the Simplify Timelines and Assure Regulatory Transparency Act.
The START Act includes changes to the federal regulatory permitting process that aim to make it easier to approve energy projects, while also codifying several rules that former President Donald Trump temporarily put in place.
One project, in particular, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, would be required to be approved under the START Act, a pipeline that has stalled for the past several months due to lawsuits by environmental groups removing permits over the pipeline's environmental impact.
There are currently 45 co-sponsors for the legislation in the Senate, all Republicans, after being introduced and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works on Sept. 12.
The bill is a counter to the proposed, but not yet released, permitting reform bill that Senator Joe Manchin has talked about and was part of the reason he voted for the Inflation Reduction Act.
While Democrats have not yet released their own permitting reform bill, it seems likely that they will attempt to add it to the must-pass government funding bill at the end of September.
Barrasso said in the release:
"Important infrastructure, highway, and energy projects across the country are being strangled by the red tape coming out of the Biden administration," Barrasso said. "Road and bridge safety projects that take months to build are now taking years to permit. Energy projects are being hijacked by open-ended and far-reaching ‘climate change’ reviews. We need to focus on making the permitting process easier, not harder. Our legislation makes key reforms that will help energy and infrastructure projects get done better, faster, cheaper, and smarter."
In regards to climate change reviews that Barrasso references, the START Act prohibits the use of a White House document which requires that projects consider the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions when deciding whether or not to approve a project.
Specifically, the document requires that the impact of releasing greenhouse gases, like poorer health, increased flooding, and disruption of energy systems, be considered when deciding whether or not to approve certain projects that would put more carbon, methane, and or carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Lummis said in the release:
"Critical infrastructure and energy projects in Wyoming, as well as across the country, face a constant uphill battle when trying to bring projects online under the Biden Administration," Lummis said. "The onslaught of overly burdensome environmental regulations and red tape have caused unnecessary delays and, in many cases, brought projects to a grinding halt. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this commonsense permitting reform bill to expedite approval of essential projects."