4 Ways Clean Energy Affects American Infrastructure
Demand for cleaner energy sources continues to grow and innovation is needed to support it. Red tape, lengthy approvals and inefficiencies need to be removed.
Air Date: May 13, 2021
Moderator: Martin Durbin, Senior Vice President, Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Featured Guests: Natasha Santos, Vice President, Head of Stakeholders Affairs & Strategic Partnerships, Bayer
As demand for cleaner energy sources continues to grow, the need for energy innovation in infrastructure is greater than ever. However, the permitting process at every level of government is fraught with red tape, lengthy approvals, and inefficiencies that both government officials and private sector professionals want to abolish.
In a recent panel hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, five industry experts and Congresspeople gathered to discuss new legislation, working across the aisle, and basic needs to see innovation in the clean energy sector for the next 30 years.
The BUILDER Act’s No. 1 Goal Is Efficiency
Representative Garret Graves introduced the BUILDER (Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays & Efficient Reviews) Act in April 2021 to make infrastructure project reviews more efficient, reduce project costs, spur economic recovery, and rebuild America.
“What we did is we introduced legislation that focuses on outcomes,” said Rep. Graves. “It improves the efficiency of the project development and delivery process. At the end of the day, this is all about getting to the completed project faster and more efficiently.”
“We have seen that the environmental reviews … have tripled or greater in the amount of time they're taking since the law was enacted,” Graves continued. “This is all about focusing truly on environmental outcomes and ensuring that we're using the law for that purpose, not getting caught up in all sorts of other ancillary purposes.”
The Biden Administration’s Plan to Pursue Clean Energy Is an Opportunity for More American Jobs
David Hayes, special assistant to the president for climate policy at The White House, has built his career around energy, environment, and resource development for the United States. Bringing his expertise and history to the important topic of clean energy and innovation with infrastructure, Hayes explained how the Biden Administration seeks to move forward.
“Our office has been intimately involved in preparing the American Jobs Plan with the rest of the administration,” he said. “A lot of the infrastructure work that needs to happen in this country is all about the transition to clean energy that we need to do because of the climate crisis, and also because of the job opportunities that are amazing in terms of developing this domestic energy source.”
“The expected increase in electricity needs, particularly as we transition our transportation sector to electricity, is amazing,” Hayes continued. “We're excited that we have this opportunity to invest in America and American jobs.”
Representative Davis’ Bill Helps Federal Resources Go Further
Congressman Rodney Davis, who represents the 13th district of Illinois, introduced a bill in May 2021 with other Republican leaders on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee that provides historic levels of investment in America’s roads, bridges, and core infrastructure to meet the nation’s growing transportation needs in addition to cutting red tape to get meaningful transportation improvements completed in a timely manner.
“Any time that it takes to just go through more engineering, more studies, more reviews [is taking] away the precious tax dollars that we could put toward actual construction and then move on to another project,” said Rep. Davis. “We all know that the cost to build major infrastructure projects continues to go up every single year.”
“We really have to prioritize this background process — the regulatory process,” he continued. “That's what our One Federal Decision Act would do. It would allow us to limit all of the studies necessary for the federal government to reach approval [and] to move forward to two years.”
Bipartisanship Is Key to Achieving Success in Clean Energy
Jason Grumet, founder and president of Bipartisan Policy Center, believes the conversation about climate has shifted from fighting over climate change to brainstorming action-based solutions for the betterment of the world.
“For the last decade, the permitting fight has been a proxy fight over climate change with the assumption that we're trying to build high carbon stuff, and therefore the goal is to slow it down,” said Grumet. “We think that debate is now changed, and there's a moment to take ‘yes’ for an answer and bring everybody together to figure out how we can, with urgency, build the projects necessary to achieve a sustainable climate.”