57 members of the House — 29 Democrats and 28 Republicans — officially relaunched the Climate Solutions Caucus on Friday after the bipartisan committee petered out in 2018.
Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) told E&E News, "Whatever climate bill that’s going to come out and become law, it's going to have Republicans and Democrats; I think we could actually do some really good legislation and get it passed."
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) agreed with her colleague, saying, "With very narrow majorities and minorities, there is the possibility for durable, lasting, sustainable solutions to things."
Both representatives asserted that the first priority of the caucus will focus on the current confusion surrounding permitting processes and its impact on the development of clean energy projects. This area has become increasingly urgent as the Inflation Reduction Act significantly increased the number of renewable energy projects applying for construction permits.
As previously reported, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 — known for approving the debt limit deal in June — established a new agency to review projects applying for a permit to develop infrastructure in the chemical and energy sector.
Despite the law, roadblocks to permitting have persisted. Approval for the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a natural gas pipeline championed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — was specifically granted in the debt limit law, with part of that language included transferring jurisdiction over the project to a Washington, D.C. appeals court. However, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, granted a stay on construction for the project. The stay was granted in response to a filing from The Wilderness Society for a 3-mile section of the pipeline that would pass through the Jefferson National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains.
Regardless of opinions pertaining to the pipeline itself, future clarity on permitting rules and jurisdiction is clearly needed. The Climate Solutions Caucus has its work cut out for it.
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