Tuesday marked the first day of National Clean Energy Week’s (NCEW) 6th Annual Policy Makers Symposium. The week-long series of events launched with the theme “Let America Build,” and it was on full display right from the start.
The forum kicked off Tuesday with remarks from prominent policymakers on both sides of the political aisle, including GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI). Both acknowledged the critical role Congress plays in reducing emissions and producing clean and affordable renewable energy solutions. Shortly concluding their supportive remarks, the first panel, Cutting Red Tape: Removing Obstacles to Clean Energy and Emissions Reductions, got underway.
The first panel comprised non-profit stakeholders, professionals from the private sector, and association representatives. Tonally, the panelists and the members of Congress that kicked off NCEW shared a similar sentiment, namely that it’s time to capitalize on American ingenuity and produce clean energy.
Moderator Alexander Herrgott, President of The Permitting Institute, led the discussion with several panelists that helped represent the expansive range of energy stakeholders. Panelists included:
- Serge Abergel, Chief Operating Officer of Hydro-Quebec Energy Services
- Gene Grace, General Counsel of the American Clean Power Association
- Jordan Stone, Assistant Vice President, Government Affairs for the Association of American Railroads
- John Wieland, Chief Development Officer of Leeward Renewable Energy, LLC
Support for the transition to a cleaner energy portfolio and reduced emissions was unanimous among the panelists. So too, however, was the concern that the clean energy supply chain is bogged down in regulatory hurdles and cumbersome permitting requirements. To help relieve the backlog slowing down the transition to a lower carbon economy, panelists emphasized the barriers to production and urged private sector stakeholders and policymakers to work together to break down these barriers.
“If we keep waiting…the consumer is the one suffering, and we’re killing the [clean energy] jobs that we should be encouraging,” said Serge Abergel of Hydro-Quebec Energy Services.
Thankfully, Congress has been hard at work devising legislation to invest much-needed resources into climate-resilience measures and speed up production. For instance, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was acknowledged during the panel for including numerous provisions to bolster clean energy production. Importantly, however, there is still more work to do. “The passage of the IRA and the objectives contained in that legislation is tremendous, but…unless we make meaningful strides to streamline the permitting and interconnection processes and transmission build-out, it really is just hopes and dreams,” said John Wieland of Leeward Renewable Energy
To fill in some of the IRA’s gaps, both Republicans – as mentioned by GOP Leader Rep. McCarthy during NCEW – and Democrats in Congress, via the recently introduced Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, are proposing solutions to accelerate permitting timelines for projects throughout the U.S. “The Manchin-Schumer bill [Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022], regardless of whether it ultimately passes or not, has done us the favor of helping to facilitate this conversation,” said Gene Grace from the American Clean Power Association
These prospective permitting solutions are critical to cutting through the red tape that hinders American progress. Industries spanning the U.S. economy depend on new energy solutions. “Freight transportation demand is expected to grow by 50% by 2050… I can’t emphasize enough how much these delays in permitting cost the industry billions of dollars that could otherwise be invested in further improving our service,” said Jordan Stone with the Association of American Railroads. Thanks to the experts on yesterday’s panel, and commitments from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, unlocking the clean energy future in America is looking more likely than ever.