Murkowski Supports Bipartisan Permitting Reform

Broken Federal Process is Holding Back Vital Projects in Alaska, Across the Nation

Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, issued the following statement after voting for the Building American Energy Security Act, a measure to reform the dysfunctional federal permitting process for energy and natural resource projects. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, offered it as an amendment to H.R. 7776, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, after negotiations with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, and a small group of bipartisan members.

“While this measure did not go as far as I wanted it to, it would have improved the federal permitting process and helped reduce some of the worst abuses within it. That is critical for the nation and especially for Alaska, a resource producing state where virtually every development project faces an absurd combination of litigation and bureaucratic delay,” Murkowski said. “I thank Senator Manchin for pushing this to the fore, for putting concrete ideas on the table, and for creating an opportunity for permitting reform that would not otherwise have existed. I also thank Senator Capito for helping to better the text through bipartisan negotiation. While today’s vote did not succeed, it sets a clear marker for the 118th Congress to prioritize an agreement on permitting reform that is at least as strong as this one.”

The Building American Energy Security Act would make a number of improvements to the federal permitting process, including streamlined reviews for project authorizations and transparency for litigation. Among other features, the measure would require federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management to establish clear timelines to make decisions and complete any supplemental analysis ultimately required by courts.

Under those timelines, federal permitting for Alaska’s Willow Project could have been completed 11 months ago, while permitting for the Ambler Access Project could have been completed 18 months ago. Instead, permitting for Willow is now at four years and three months (and counting), while permitting for Ambler is at five years and nine months (and counting). The interminable delays these projects – and many others – have faced serve mainly to deprive Alaskans of good jobs and economic opportunities, while denying the nation access to domestic sources of needed and responsibly developed energy and minerals. 

The Senate’s vote on the Building American Energy Security Act was 47-47, with 60 votes required for passage. More information about measure is available here.

Related Issues: Energy