Joe Manchin on Wednesday made public the text of his long-awaited permitting bill, the result of a side deal that the senator from West Virginia made with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as a condition of passing major climate legislation last month. The bill provoked a variety of strong and polarized reactions from climate experts, environmental justice advocates, and renewable energy boosters, but it’s still unclear how it would change the nation’s energy mix. Even less certain is whether the legislation can pass as a rider to a budget resolution that Congress must pass by the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown.
The bulk of the bill consists of a series of revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, a sweeping 1970 law that requires federal agencies to review the environmental impacts of nearly all the decisions they make. The legislation would set a two-year ceiling on NEPA reviews of major infrastructure projects and a one-year ceiling on reviews of minor projects, though it isn’t clear what would happen if agencies exceed those timelines, and the bill doesn’t contain any funding to help agencies meet the new mandates. The bill a... Read more