Peters tries to regroup for permitting reform – ‘we will still fail’ without it

October 20, 2023

Congressman Peters is pushing for permitting reforms to streamline our clean energy transition and help meet our climate goals.

Read more about his BIG WIRES Act in this October 11th piece from the Washington Examiner, posted below:

Peters tries to regroup for permitting reform – ‘we will still fail’ without it

By Breanne Deppisch

October 11, 2023

PETERS TRIES TO RALLY THE TROOPS: Rep. Scott Peters issued a plea for support on permitting reform this morning at the ACORE Grid Forum in Arlington, Virginia, warning that the major climate legislation of the past few years will not suffice without it.

Peters, a California Democrat who has worked across the aisle to try to update the NEPA review process and accelerate the speed of building out new transmission lines, praised the Inflation Reduction Act and bipartisan infrastructure law as historic efforts to address climate change and incentivize new clean energy and renewable investments.

Now, he said, Congress must turn to the second part of the equation: permitting and transmission.

“We can have all the money in the world, but we will still fail” if lawmakers don’t work to accelerate the permitting process and add new transmission, Peters said. “The stakes are incredibly high.”

Why it matters: To meet current climate goals, the U.S. must build 200,000 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines, Peters said. Currently, the U.S. is adding only 1,800 miles a year.

A recent report from Princeton University concluded that 80% of projected emissions reductions from the IRA will not be realized unless the pace of transmission line build-out is tripled.

A breakthrough on permitting reform would make it easier for the U.S. to both build infrastructure for natural gas pipelines and LNG exports—and for transmission lines to be built to help get clean energy onto the grid, former FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee told Breanne.

“But the challenge is, it’s really, really difficult to build things in America—so we also need a breakthrough on permitting reform,” Chatterjee said. And Congress “has, thus far, struggled to find the appropriate compromise in which you could build both.”

Reminder: Sen. Joe Manchin had asked for a vote on permitting reform legislation as a condition of providing the pivotal vote for the IRA – but never got it.

View from the Hill: Peters has introduced several bills aimed at streamlining the permitting process and bringing new resources online quicker.

Most recently, he and Sen. John Hickenlooper introduced the BIG WIRES Act, which is meant to facilitate the transfer of power between regional power grids in the U.S. The bill would require FERC to set minimum transfer capacities of 30% for all regions; allowing for the transfer of power from one part of the country to another in the event of a supply emergency and helping avoid grid collapse or capacity shortfalls.

NEPA is also due for an update, Peters said today, noting that when the law was passed in the 1970s, the nation “was on defense” and needed to set environmental safeguards and stop dirty profits.” Now, “the country needs to go on offense,” he said, “and be focused on the building part of the equation.”

That can’t happen as the law currently stands. The NEPA approval process on average takes more than four years to complete—a deep mismatch for the current U.S. energy landscape, which has been mired by capacity shortages and threats of near-collapse amid extreme weather events and record demand.

NEPA “didn’t come from Moses on stone tablets,” Peters said, adding that the law can and should be updated to better meet the needs of the U.S.



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