As expected, every Senate Republican opposed the passage of President Biden’s scaled-back “Build Back Better” agenda this weekend. Republicans charged that the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” won’t reduce inflation and that Democrats used the issue of climate change to raise taxes and give the IRS new tools ability to harass American workers and job creators.
One bright spot for Republicans was the work and leadership of Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska who successfully and adroitly used the Schumer-Manchin breakthrough to spotlight the neglected and critically important work of permitting reform. As I wrote here and the C3 Action poll showed, voters wanted Congress to tackle permitting reform before raising taxes or adding to the deficit.
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In the Climate and Freedom Agenda, Nick Loris, VP of Public Policy for C3 Solutions writes, “Regrettably, rather than streamline the process while maintaining environmental and public health safety, the Biden administration added layers of bureaucracy through changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) … At the federal level, NEPA causes regulatory paralysis and opens doors for litigious organizations to block projects even if the environmental assessment deems the project to be safe.”
Sullivan and his colleagues who supported his resolution nullifying the Biden administration’s new NEPA regulations, which rolled back Trump-era NEPA reforms, are on the right side of voters and smart climate and energy policy.
James Callahan, General President International Union of Operating Engineers, put it well: “Since its modest beginnings, NEPA has evolved into a massive edifice, capable of destroying project and project, job after job, in virtually every sector of the economy. Dilatory strategies employed by project opponents frequently exploit provisions in NEPA, weighing down projects, frustrating communities, and raising costs to the point that many applicants, whether public or private, simply walk away.”
In his statement after the vote, Sullivan said, “We all know the Biden NEPA regulations are nothing more than a delay bomb for building infrastructure in this country. Today’s vote is a win for the men and women who build things in America. It’s a win for those who support building infrastructure for America in a timely fashion. It’s a win for anyone who supports unleashing American energy that we need so much right now in our country. And, most importantly, it’s a win for the men and women who build this country, feed this country, and grow this country.”
Every Republican supported Sullivan’s amendment in addition to Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cares about climate change she should pass Sullivan’s resolution quickly in the House and ask President Biden to empower innovators rather than regulators.