If Sanders and Warren Think Climate Change Is an Emergency, Why Are They Against These Green Energy Reforms?
In July, a group of progressive senators sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging the immediate declaration of climate change as a national emergency.
“Declaring the climate crisis a national emergency…would unlock powers to rebuild a better economy with significant, concrete actions,” the senators wrote. “The climate crisis is one of the biggest emergencies that our country has ever faced and time is running out.”
The letter was signed by nine senators, among them Cory Booker (D–N.J.), Edward Markey (D–Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.).
“We cannot allow a single Senator to stall our progress,” they wrote—a not-so-veiled reference to their colleague, Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.), who has been wrongly castigated by progressives for single-handedly blocking bills that, in actuality, face opposition from a majority of the Senate.
Now, there’s a bill before the Senate that would take concrete actions to speed the deployment of green energy projects that aim to combat the carbon emissions blamed for climate change. Manchin is sponsoring the bill—and you can probably guess where Booker, Markey, Sanders, and Warren are lining up.
The permitting reform proposal that Manchin is trying to attach to an upcoming must-pass government funding bill is a sprawling piece of legislation that aims to accomplish many things. But perhaps the most important part of the proposal is a series of deadlines that would be created to prevent the often lengthy delays that befall large infrastructure projects—including green energy projects. The bill would impose a two-year limit on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews, would require permits to be issued within 180 days after the conclusion of a NEPA review, and would impose a 150-day statute of limitations for lawsuits challenging those projects.
As Reason’s Christian Britschgi has detailed, the NEPA review process was created in 1970 to ensure that the environmental impact of infrastructure projects like power plants and highways was considered. That’s important, but the process takes far too long: The average NEPA review now takes more than four years. Unsurprisingly, the complex bureaucratic process has become a tool for anti-growth and NIMBY activists—who also love to file
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