Permit reform in US debt-ceiling bill should benefit energy projects

Al Greenwood


HOUSTON (ICIS)–A US bill that would raise the nation’s debt ceiling includes provisions that would reform the nation’s permitting regime, which should make it easier to develop infrastructure that would provide the chemical industry with feedstock as well as speed up renewable energy projects.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, known as HR 3746, still needs to pass the House Rules Committee before the full chamber of the House of Representatives can vote on it.

Some of the permit-reform proposals were included in earlier bills.

One of those will establish a single lead agency for individual projects that require reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The lead agency has a two-year deadline to study and develop an environmental impact statement for projects deemed environmentally complex.

For projects that are not deemed environmentally complex, the lead agency will have a one-year deadline to study and develop environmental assessments.

Companies applying for the permits can sue the government if it misses the deadline.

The debt-ceiling bill calls for the government to spend a year studying the creation of an online permitting portal for permits that require NEPA review.

The bill will speed up the development of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which will ship natural gas from the Marcellus shale in the Appalachian region to the southern part of the state of Virginia.

The chemical industry has long called for the US to make it easier to build pipelines and other energy infrastructure.

Chemical plants in the US rely on natural gas as a feedstock and fuel. In addition, they overwhelmingly rely on gas-based feedstock such as ethane and propane.

Permit reform would make it easier to build the infrastructure needed to deliver fuel and feedstock to chemical plants.

Increasingly, chemical companies are relying on renewable power to lower their carbon emissions.

Permit reform will make it easier to build the transmission lines that will give chemical plants access to renewable power produced by solar panels, wind turbines and other zero-carbon sources of electricity.

During a briefing held on 28 May, White House officials acknowledged that the proposed permit reforms should make it easier to build more solar and wind projects as well as transmission lines and electric-vehicle (EV) chargers.

EVs and renewable power projects consume various plastics and chemicals. Permit reform could stimulate chemical demand for these end markets.

In a statement, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said, “We applaud Congress and the Biden administration for reaching a bipartisan agreement that achieves progress on permitting reform.”

The ACC encouraged Congress and the administration to continue working on ways to improve the nation’s permitting process.

Thumbnail shows a pipeline. Image by Global Warming Images/REX Shutterstock


ICIS Premium news service

The subscription platform provides access to our full range of breaking news and analysis

Contact us now to find out more

Speak with ICIS

Now, more than ever, dynamic insights are key to navigating complex, volatile commodity markets. Access to expert insights on the latest industry developments and tracking market changes are vital in making sustainable business decisions.

Want to learn about how we can work together to bring you actionable insight and support your business decisions?

Need Help?

Need Help?