Should Washington overhaul the permitting process for energy projects of all stripes?
Many energy developers, including those for renewable energy and fossil fuels alike, complain about how long it takes for permitting officials to review projects, including wind farms, pipelines, and power plants. These long regulatory processes are caused by a confluence of factors, including local opposition (NIMBY, or not-in-my-backyard) and prolonged National Environmental Policy Act reviews.
Two recent examples illustrate these challenges. President Obama delayed the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline last November because of local concerns in Nebraska about the project's impact on a major aquifer. That project has been winding its way through different regulatory processes for more than three years. Cape Wind, the offshore wind-farm project that is poised to be the country's first, has been slogging through the permitting process and beating back local opposition from powerful politicians like the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., for more than a decade.
Bipartisan legislation in the House would streamline environmental reviews of all types of energy projects, but it doesn't seem poised to gain much traction in the Senate.
Should Congress pass that measure, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., or a similar one? What else should the White House and Congress do to more efficiently review energy projects? Or is the process operating as it should?