Sen. Manchin Reveals Project Permit Reform Legislation
Sen. Joe Manchin has released his promised legislative proposal that aims to speed federal environmental review of pipelines and other energy projects, but also applying to other infrastructure, and is set to be attached to a must-pass stopgap spending bill needed to keep the government operating when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.Senate consideration of permitting legislation was the condition that West Virginia Democrat Manchin, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair, won from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to support the Inflation Reduction Act climate and health care package that President Joe Biden signed in August. Another option seen is attaching the permit reform measure to National Defense Authorization Act, the military spending bill that Schumer said would be debated in October before Congress adjourns before the November midterm election. According to a summary released, the Manchin proposal would basically extend to pipelines and other energy infrastructure projects, but also including "Streamlining" provisions that apply to highways and other transportation projects under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other statutes. Those provisions include a two-year goal for National Environmental Policy Act reviews for "Major energy and natural resource projects."Manchin's proposal also would designate a single lead agency to coordinate a project's environmental reviews. The bill would set a 150-day statute of limitations to file court challenges to energy projects. The natural-gas pipeline, whose construction is nearly complete, would run about 300 miles, from northwest West Virginia to southern Virginia. The project has had a long path through the federal review process and the courts.