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Senator Manchin introduces new U.S. energy permitting bill


U.S. Senator Joe Manchin introduced on Tuesday his latest measure to speed permitting of both fossil fuel and renewable energy projects, as he tries to win support from both major parties after similar bills failed several times last year.

The legislation, Building American Energy Security Act, sets a two-year limit on environmental reviews of major federal energy projects and one year for smaller ones, reduces court delays over energy projects, and directs the U.S. president to designate at least 25 high level energy projects and prioritize their permitting.

“There is overwhelming bipartisan recognition that our current permitting processes aren’t working, and equally bipartisan support for addressing it through comprehensive permitting reform legislation,” Manchin, a conservative Democrat from coal- and gas-rich West Virginia, said in a release.

The bill also calls for completion of Equitrans Midstream Corp’s (ETRN.N) Mountain Valley Pipeline, that would run through Manchin’s state. The $6.6 billion, 300 mile (480 km), natural gas project is mostly built, but still needs several permits.

Environmental groups and some of Manchin’s fellow Democratic lawmakers had slammed his previous permitting measures as handouts to fossil fuel companies, which contributed to last year’s failures.

And Republicans who were angry with Manchin for supporting President Joe Biden’s climate legislation did not support his bill last year.

But clean energy advocates have said the legislation, which would speed power transmission projects, is key to implementing an energy transition supported by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act that had $369 billion in tax breaks and other incentives to help combat climate change.

And Manchin could get support from some Republicans in the Senate, currently controlled by Democrats, whose states would benefit from energy projects.

The House, controlled by Republicans, passed an energy reform bill March 30 intended to boost oil and gas and scale back climate initiatives. The House would likely have to drop many of those provisions for the bill to progress. To become law, the legislation would have to pass both chambers and be signed by Biden.

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