Permitting Reform: Paving the Way for a Green Energy Revolution

Last year, Congress took a significant step forward in the fight against climate change by approving billions of dollars for clean energy projects.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides a historic opportunity to scale renewable energy investment, spur economic growth, and create millions of jobs. However, there's a major obstacle standing in the way of fully realizing these benefits: permitting.

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To maximize the advantages of renewable energy and ensure equitable distribution, we must strengthen and modernize our electric grid.
This involves tackling large power line projects that cross city and state lines to deliver clean energy to communities. Yet, these projects face the challenge of obtaining permission to build from all levels of government.

What is “permitting” in an energy context?

Permitting refers to the process by which energy projects, particularly clean energy projects like renewable energy facilities and transmission lines, obtain the necessary approvals and permissions from various levels of government to be built and operated.
The permitting process involves obtaining licenses, clearances, and environmental approvals to ensure that the proposed projects comply with regulatory requirements, environmental standards, and public safety measures.
Permitting is a crucial step in the development of energy infrastructure because it ensures that projects meet the necessary criteria for environmental protection, land use, and public interest.
However, as highlighted in this article, the current permitting process can be slow and cumbersome, leading to lengthy delays that hinder the progress of clean energy projects.

The current state of the permitting process

The current permitting process presents a significant problem. The timeline for obtaining permission for an energy project is painfully long, sometimes spanning a decade or more due to extensive environmental and judicial reviews.
For example, the Grain Belt Express, a transmission line project to connect renewable energy from Kansas to surrounding states, has been tangled in permitting since 2010, wasting thirteen years of potential progress for clean energy in the Midwest.
To overcome this barrier, we urgently need permitting reform. With the impending threat of climate change and the importance of maximizing IRA funds, time is of the essence to rapidly scale renewable energy investments.
Our current electric grid is outdated, fragmented, lacks resilience, and is ill-equipped to handle increasing catastrophic weather events. To truly capitalize on the historic opportunity for emissions reductions and clean energy deployment that the IRA provides, we will need to break down barriers to collaboration and help utilities, state and local governments, and clean energy providers build a connected grid that’s ready for a clean energy revolution.
Now is the time for legislators to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and maximize climate funds by streamlining permitting for clean energy projects.
However, permitting reform is a contentious issue, particularly for communities that have borne the brunt of pollution from fossil fuel infrastructure for decades. For these communities, the lengthy permitting process has been their only defense against harmful energy projects. A just approach to permitting reform must not perpetuate disparities; instead, it should empower these communities to have a say in the planning and approval of projects.
To ensure a just transition, the reform must consider the input of directly impacted communities experiencing environmental concerns. Early community engagement and technical assistance should be prioritized in these communities.
Moreover, rural states should economically benefit from providing renewable energy to denser population centers, and workforce opportunities should be created through investments in low emission, zero-emission, and resilient technologies and infrastructure.

Join the Fight for Permitting Reform

The stakes are high. Without permitting reform, we risk squandering the historic opportunity to combat climate change effectively. As other nations seize the lead in the clean energy economy, the U.S. will be left behind, missing out on clean energy jobs and investments that could benefit communities nationwide
We need a diverse group of advocates to engage in this issue, participate in the dialogue, and advocate for the policies that align with our collective vision of a more sustainable, equitable future. We won’t be able to tackle the climate crisis without making big changes to the electric grid.
Grid and environmental issues cannot be solved by postponing action, and an equitable transition to a net-zero future requires a coalition of voices advocating for the changes that will impact us all positively.
Dream.Org staff and supporters meet with Senators to voice support for permitting reform that accelerates clean energy projects and puts communities first.
Dream.Org staff and supporters meet with Senators to voice support for permitting reform that accelerates clean energy projects and puts communities first.

Permitting reform is not just about reducing emissions and pollution; it's about ensuring opportunities for all in the clean energy economy. By advocating for a well-crafted permitting reform, we can protect communities from pollution, create green job opportunities, and unleash the potential of climate funds.
Sign our petition today and join us in this vital fight for permitting reform. Together, we can reshape the energy landscape, build a more sustainable future, and lead the charge towards a green energy revolution. Let's leave behind the red tape and welcome a future with more green projects, fewer emissions, and thriving communities.

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