September 26, 2022

Congress To Vote On Permitting Reform This Week

Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House are expected to vote this week on a short-term funding bill for fiscal 2023 that includes provisions to accelerate the process by which federal agencies approve energy projects.

As Reuters has reported, the debate comes as industrial metals company leaders are expressing worry about a deepening energy crisis that is threatening output around the world.

The bill, proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and called the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, contains many positive reforms that MSCI and other industry groups have supported for many years. Generally, the bill would significantly simplify and shorten required project environmental reviews, prevent abuses by state permitting agencies, and reduce opportunities for opposition groups to tie up required permits in endless litigation. It also would expedite offshore oil leases and make it easier to add wind and solar power to the nation’s electricity grid.

Read a full summary of the bill here.

The Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA), which MSCI is a member of, sent a letter to senators supporting his bill. The letter, available here, argues, “Permitting reform is especially important today. Without the addition of substantial new midstream infrastructure capacity, America’s producers cannot supply enough natural gas to American LNG export facilities to replace our allies’ loss of Russian natural gas as well as provide Asian economies with the ability to substitute our gas for higher-carbon fuels that threaten to significantly worsen climate change if current projections become reality.”

The measure will need the support of 60 senators to make it to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. Unfortunately, it currently faces opposition in the Senate from influential Democrats like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and from Republicans who favor legislation that would put even more reforms in place.

In the House, a group of lawmakers aligned with Sen. Sanders oppose the permitting reform measure and want it decoupled from the spending bill. If that happens, there may be other chances for lawmakers to vote on the legislation this fall.

With its partners at EEIA and other industry trade groups, MSCI will continue to support reforms that will ensure U.S. metals companies access to a stable supply of affordable energy.

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