February 27, 2023

Current Permitting Process Leads to Long Delays and Cancellations for Infrastructure, Energy Projects

Businesses are calling on Congress to improve the country’s outdated permitting process.

The existing process is plagued with endless delays and litigation, as well as roadblocks from multiple agencies and too many opportunities for project opponents to stall or kill important infrastructure upgrades. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the average transportation project takes nearly seven years just to obtain federal approval, with pipelines and other energy infrastructure projects experiencing similar lengthy timelines.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill adopted in 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act both allocate billions of dollars to much-needed infrastructure improvements and investments in clean energy, but the impact of those investments could be delayed if the permitting process is not overhauled, warns Martin Durbin, senior vice president of policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Over the past few years, there’s been a slow but steady realization that projects such as wind and solar farms, and interstate transmission lines can also face extreme delays in today’s permitting process,” he wrote. “Simply put, the Biden Administration’s ambitious climate goals cannot be met without a permitting overhaul.”

Efforts to update the permitting process gained steam in 2022 but ultimately failed to gain a floor vote. Still, there appears to be hope the issue could see action in 2023 as Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WV) introduced comprehensive legislation to address permitting improvements.

“Communities across the country depend on Congress taking action to cut red tape and ease delays,” Durbin wrote. “For 2023, we are calling on Congress to enact a bipartisan permitting modernization bill and will work with any member of Congress who will help accomplish this goal.”