by John Hugh DeMastri
Dozens of climate activist groups are pressuring the renewable energy industry to oppose permitting reform policies that would also support fossil fuel projects, in a letter obtained by Axios Friday.
The coalition of activists — primarily smaller, grassroots organizations — targeted the American Clean Power Association (ACP), a major renewables trade group, over its support of what they called “dangerous” reform proposals that would also benefit fossil fuels, according to Axios. The ACP previously supported the permitting reforms proposed in House Republicans’ Lower Energy Costs Act, and in late March signed a letter alongside a coalition of groups — including oil and mining industry players — calling on lawmakers to “modernize” permitting by the end of the summer.
“Clean energy companies and trade associations have already lent their support to the idea of permitting reform, giving cover to politicians in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry to push forward proposals that toss a few crumbs to renewables while stuffing the faces of Big Oil, Coal and Gas,” the environmental groups wrote in the letter. “Are the marginal gains you’ll see from this assault on environmental laws worth the price of throwing frontline communities under the bus? Is reducing your paperwork worth losing the public’s support?”
Utility-scale clean energy investments of $150 billion have spurred plans for 47 new, expanded or reopened U.S. manufacturing facilities.
Clean energy companies are investing in America.
Read ACP’s Clean Energy Investing in America report to learn how: https://t.co/M8ETC65dn6 pic.twitter.com/JJJBk21BVP
— American Clean Power (ACP) (@USCleanPower) May 18, 2023
ACP spokesman Jason Ryan told Axios that while permitting reform was “critical” to the green energy transition, ACP agreed with the letter-writers that reform “cannot come at the expense of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws … [or] sacrifice critical environmental protections.” He also expressed an interest in meeting with the signatories of the letter “in the near future.”
Permitting reform is a key component of ongoing debt ceiling negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, and any deal reached by Congress would most likely include provisions that loosen restrictions on both renewable and fossil fuel projects, Axios reported. Environmental activists have expressed opposition to GOP measures that would limit their ability to challenge fossil fuel projects in court and hasten the environmental review process for energy projects.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia recently reintroduced permitting reform measures — which ACP supported last year — that would do just that, amid some early signs that Democrats and Republicans may be willing to support the measure to boost their preferred energy sources. The measure faced bipartisan opposition when it was first introduced last year, despite support from the White House, as progressives were unwilling to extend benefits to fossil projects, while Republicans refused to support Manchin’s proposals due to his support of President Joe Biden’s signature climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act.
ACP did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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John Hugh DeMastri is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Fossil Fuel Emissions” by Marcin Jozwiak.