Chairman Carper’s Opening Assertion: Listening to on Federal Actions to Enhance Environmental Overview and Allowing Course of – Majority Information

Chairman Carper’s Opening Statement: Hearing on Federal Actions to Improve Environmental Review and Permitting Process - Majority News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Might 17, 2023, the Senate Surroundings and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a listening to on federal actions to enhance coordination, predictability, and effectivity within the environmental evaluation and allowing course of.

Beneath is the opening assertion of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as ready for supply:

“We’re right here in the present day to revisit alternatives for bettering our environmental evaluation and allowing processes in ways in which assist the deployment of unpolluted vitality tasks and good-paying jobs throughout our nation.

“At the moment is our committee’s second listening to in two months to chart a path ahead on allowing reform laws and end the job we’ve begun. And, what do I imply by ‘end the job’? I imply construct on the work we began final Congress after we handed—due to the management of our President and the members of this committee—a once-in-a-generation funding in our nation’s infrastructure and the most important funding ever to deal with the specter of local weather change.

“Along with serving to us deal with the local weather disaster and cut back dangerous air pollution, these historic investments are already creating tons of of hundreds of good-paying jobs right here at house whereas serving to our nation grow to be much more aggressive globally. Nonetheless, as a way to make these clear vitality investments a actuality in the present day, we first have to take a critical have a look at our present allowing processes.

“Throughout our first allowing listening to three weeks in the past, we realized that our nation at present has two terawatts of unpolluted vitality energy sitting on the sidelines, ready to be linked to our electrical grid. We additionally realized on the first listening to that many communities nonetheless don’t have a seat on the desk, they usually have to be heard through the allowing course of.

“I consider we are able to do higher, and we should do higher. Happily, President Biden agrees, as do a lot of our colleagues.

“As I mentioned throughout that first listening to, I consider {that a} profitable allowing reform proposal should accomplish three targets. First, any critical proposal should cut back greenhouse gasoline emissions and uphold our nation’s bedrock environmental statutes. That features addressing transmission obstacles that make it tougher for renewables to connect with the grid. Second, that proposal should assist early and significant group engagement. And, third, the laws should present companies with the knowledge and predictability they should make knowledgeable long-term selections.

“Throughout that listening to, we have been lucky to listen to from a various panel of stakeholders representing trade and environmental teams. Whereas our witnesses didn’t see eye to eye on every part, all 5 of them agreed in regards to the significance of participating with communities early on and defending our surroundings as we work to enhance allowing effectivity. And, if I’m not mistaken, I consider our Rating Member additionally embraced this theme after listening to our witness testimony.

“The truth is, most if not the entire stakeholders we have now met with all through the previous a number of months have acknowledged that it isn’t needed to make use of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. In different phrases, we are able to obtain efficiencies with out gutting any present legal guidelines, and that’s what we have to do!

“Sadly, various latest proposals—principally from a few of our Home colleagues—purpose to streamline the allowing course of utilizing very blunt instruments and arrange what I consider is a false selection. If enacted, they might effectively strip away bedrock environmental protections below legal guidelines, such because the Nationwide Environmental Coverage Act, or NEPA. And, a few of them would curtail, or in sure circumstances, outright remove the power to hunt judicial evaluation of company selections.

“It’s my heartfelt perception that we are able to present companies and communities with higher certainty through the use of a extra focused method. And, I hope that’s precisely what we’ll do.

“As Chair Mallory will level out in her testimony in the present day, NEPA helps inform roughly 100,000 federal company actions and selections annually. Round 200 tasks a 12 months require an environmental impression assertion—essentially the most complete kind of environmental evaluation. That mentioned, greater than 95 p.c of tasks needing approval obtain that approval below essentially the most expedited type of environmental evaluation—generally known as a categorical exclusion.

“Even with this success, there are alternatives for enchancment. As I oftentimes say, in every part that I do, I do know I can do higher. The identical is true on this occasion. We are able to enhance effectivity, certainty, and predictability within the allowing course of whereas additionally guaranteeing that communities have a possibility to make their voices heard.

“Earlier this month, the Biden administration launched new priorities to speed up federal allowing and enhance environmental critiques throughout a broad vary of infrastructure tasks.

“I feel there are a variety of fine concepts from the Biden administration’s proposal that needs to be part of allowing reform laws. Amongst them is increasing the usage of programmatic environmental critiques to speed up allowing inside recognized areas.

“Some businesses are already starting to do that. For instance, off the coast of New York, the usage of a programmatic financial impression assertion helps to create a file of the environmental impacts of offshore wind improvement. Doing so may end up in extra well timed project-level critiques.

“I additionally consider that we should always increase alternatives for creating clear vitality amenities on Brownfields—an concept that I do know Senator Capito helps. As well as, we should always enhance the usage of digital instruments and knowledge sharing between businesses and facilitate higher group engagement—all concepts additionally supported by the Biden administration and by various our colleagues.

“Nonetheless, as we work on this vastly consequential matter, it’s necessary to listen to from all stakeholders. That’s why I plan to quickly launch a allowing proposal as a dialogue draft. Once I do, I encourage our colleagues, together with members of the general public, to offer substantive suggestions.

“We even have a lot to study how these proposals would interface with the work at present being carried out by the administration to advertise well timed, efficient critiques.

“And, that brings me to why we’re holding in the present day’s listening to: to realize the views of our witnesses. We sit up for listening to from every of you and thanks for becoming a member of us in the present day.”


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