Biden’s “Permitting Action Plan” Falls Short of Needed Reforms

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today said that President Biden’s “permitting action plan” fails to deliver the necessary reforms to streamline environmental reviews and permitting of electric transmission and other projects to modernize America’s electric infrastructure. Such projects are essential to maintaining the safe, affordable and reliable delivery of electricity across the nation.

“The administration’s plan fails to address the root of the environmental review and permitting problems plaguing the electric sector,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “As we plan for a future that depends on electricity as the primary energy source for most of the American economy, the streamlined siting and permitting of electric infrastructure projects will be a key success factor. Robust reforms are needed to remove barriers and accelerate the construction of modern energy infrastructure.”

For years, electric cooperatives have encouraged policymakers to support solutions that modernize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and facilitate coordinated, consistent, and timely agency decision-making. Lack of federal coordination, inconsistent processes, and protracted litigation have forced communities to endure costly project delays, some of which led to project cancelation, and threats to electric reliability.

The 102-mile Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project is one example of the need for significant reforms. Work on the project began in 2014 to bring renewable energy online in the upper Midwest. Nearly 115 renewable energy projects are dependent upon the completion of this transmission line. The project’s timeline was jeopardized after a court ruling blocked it from crossing the Mississippi River, which could significantly delay and drive up the project’s costs.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.