It’s Now or Never:   Manchin Permitting Reform Bill is Back.  

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MANCHIN BILL IS BACK: Sen. Joe Manchin‘s famed permitting reform bill is back — or it’s going to be.

Manchin said this morning he intends to reintroduce the bill and to hold hearings in Energy and Natural Resources since Senate leadership isn’t interested in giving Republicans’ Lower Energy Cost Act a shot.

“If we don’t get [permitting reform] done this year, we don’t get it done,” he said.

Where Democrats are: Manchin besides, Democratic interest in reforms is simmering now that the vote on H.R. 1 is out of the way. Electric transmission, which Republicans’ bill did very little on, is going to be the key to any deal as supportive Democrats want to make sure the electrons generated by clean energy projects enabled by the Inflation Reduction Act’s subsidies can actually make it around.

More than 2,000 gigawatts of generation and storage capacity now seek interconnection, 95% of which is made up of solar, batteries, or wind, according to new research from DOE’s Berkeley Lab.

Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, who has been working with Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman to chart a bipartisan pathway on reform, said this morning that leaving things the way they are “simply isn’t compatible with science” and stressed the need for more transmission lines, citing Berkeley Lab’s data. Litigation and current implementation of NEPA and other environmental laws are actively decelerating projects, he said.

More liberal Democrats have been making suggestions for how to change things, too. Sen. Ed Markey, who voted against Manchin’s legislation in December, circulated a list of priorities last month recommending that Congress automatically designate FERC as the siting authority for transmission facilities with capacity ratings of 1,000 megawatts.

Markey also endorsed a proposal from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse that would direct FERC to allocate the costs of transmission projects, something Democrats in the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition have endorsed.

More negotiations to be had: Just seven Republicans supported Manchin’s permitting bill, which sought to preserve states’ authorities over siting transmission while still allowing FERC to step in if permits aren’t issued within a year’s time.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, was one of those seven. But, she said, making FERC the backstop, especially on cost allocation, would be a problem.

“I don’t think we want to federalize the grid,” Capito told Jeremy.

“There’s a lot of questions about cost allocations, who’s going to pay for this, who’s going to benefit from it,” she said, adding that proposals to give FERC a suite of new or expanded authorities “tilts” the balance “in favor of the federal government making all those decisions, whereas now those are made by [public service commissions] and ratepayers and consumer advocates and states.”

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy