Renewables Projects May Soon See a Big Cut to Lengthy Permitting Delays

If passed, a bipartisan bill is expected to slash permitting delays for renewables projects across the U.S.

The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 3794) (PLREDA) was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) in July and aims to create a dedicated office allowing federal land management agencies to streamline permitting on renewable power projects, cutting the time it takes agencies to conduct environmental reviews. In some instances, permitting for renewables projects on federal lands can last years and even up to a decade or more. This bill should see that stretch of time reduced significantly.

Additionally, the bill would distribute some federal revenue generated from renewables development to local county and state governments. It would also designate part of that revenue to a fund that supports outdoor recreation, sporting and conservation. Both of which appeal to environmentalists concerned about energy development on federal lands.

Lastly, as part of the bill, the Interior Department would be required to declare low-conflict priority areas where wind, solar, and geothermal power development can avoid or minimize impact to wildlife, habitat and cultural resources.

Right and Left Side-by-Side

Joining Rep. Gosar, a supporter of President Donald Trump, in sponsoring the bill is Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), who served on the National Finance Committee for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. In total, 17 democrats and 16 republicans cosponsored the bill, one of the rare pieces of energy legislation that both sides of the aisle have agreed to push.

During his time in office, the President has made a conscious effort to place his energy focus on oil, gas and coal extraction. His executive orders earlier in the year sought to accelerate construction of oil and gas pipelines and other projects all across the U.S. However, his enthusiasm for renewables development on federal land has been much less apparent, a marked shift from the Obama administration.

The Edge: Bipartisan Energy Support is Possible

PLREDA serves as a reminder that bipartisan legislation isn’t entirely a relic of the past even in today’s ultra-polarized political environment. When both sides recognize the important role the energy industry plays in bettering the lives of their constituents no matter their political affiliation, it can happen and is happening.

This newest bill is a step in the right direction for the energy industry. Now the hope is that it’s just one step of many to come.