Murkowski: Streamlining the Federal Permitting Process is Essential to Modernizing U.S. Energy Infrastructure

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired an oversight hearing to examine the permitting processes for energy and resource infrastructure projects at the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The hearing focused on permitting challenges and opportunities to improve the responsiveness, transparency, and predictability of permit reviews.

“We all recognize that we need to make investments to upgrade and modernize our aging infrastructure,” Murkowski said. “However, the current regulatory regime for these projects, from electric transmission lines to hydropower to mining projects, impacts the cost effectiveness of our federal investments. The length and uncertainty associated with the permitting process is driving private investment dollars overseas, rather than keeping those jobs here and creating growth and prosperity for our nation.”

Murkowski also highlighted her bipartisan work to reform the permitting process. “The Energy and Natural Resources Act that Sen. Cantwell and I reintroduced this year has provisions that take important steps to streamline project reviews,” Murkowski said. “Whether it is energy production, pipelines, pumped storage, water supply, mining, or LNG, the permitting system needs to be improved across the board, and our bill will help us make needed progress.”

The U.S. is among the worst in the world when it comes to permitting delays for new mines. This weakens our mineral security and puts the manufacturing, health care, energy, defense, and other industries at unnecessary risk. Hecla Mining Vice President of External Affairs Luke Russell emphasized how permitting delays reduce infrastructure investment and increase our nation’s foreign mineral dependency.

“Metals and minerals are the building blocks of our nation’s infrastructure – simply put, it is impossible to create infrastructure without them,” Russell said. “The United States is blessed with world class mineral endowment, but sadly has become increasingly dependent on foreign sources of minerals…The length of time it takes to secure permits in the U.S., which takes an average of seven to ten years, or longer, is a key reason behind this dependency. In addition, it is making the United States less attractive for investment.”

In addition to Russell, the committee received testimony from DOI Associate Deputy Secretary Jim Cason, Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council Acting Executive Director Janet Pfleeger, FERC Director of the Office of Energy Projects Terry Turpin, Water Quality Management Unit Supervisor at the Washington Department of Ecology Chad Brown, and Transwest Express Vice President and General Counsel Roxane Perruso.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing is available on the committee’s website. Click here to view Murkowski’s first round of questions with witnesses and here for her second round.

Related Issues: Energy