Air Date

April 18, 2023

Featured Guests

Jason Grumet
President and Founder, Bipartisan Policy Center

Leo Moreno
CEO, AES Clean Energy


Marty Durbin
Senior Vice President, Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, President, Global Energy Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


The United States is looking to increase investments in infrastructure, including within the clean energy sector. Leveraging these investments to build the infrastructure of the future, however, will require reforms to modernize the country’s permitting processes.

During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Permit America to Build event, Marty Durbin, SVP of Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke with experts in the energy sector about permitting reforms that can help the U.S. create and pursue clean energy opportunities.

The U.S. Can Increase Its Competitiveness and Energy Output While Addressing Climate Concerns

According to Jason Grumet, CEO of American Clean Power, the U.S. is in a good position to improve regulations surrounding clean energy.

“We have an opportunity to increase U.S. competitiveness, energy, resiliency, [and] address climate change, create real jobs — but those always feel like they're kind of theoretical aspirations,” he said. “We're trying to change something very hard.”

Grumet noted every president who has served since Richard Nixon has tried permitting reform.

“It's a mindset issue,” he said. “The basic structure of our regulatory system, all of the incentives for our public servants are designed around preventing anything bad from happening. We are in a moment now where we have an incredible, tangible opportunity to enable good things to happen.”

Grumet stressed that the future we desire for our country is within reach.

“We have created the federal framework,” he said. “We have the technology, we have the workforce. What we don't have is a regulatory system that permits success … I think you're seeing that the climate advocacy community is coming to grips with the desire to actually succeed, not just talk about succeeding.”

The Push for Energy Transition Starts Small

Leo Moreno, CEO of AES Clean Energy, likened AES to “a mini version of the entire energy transition.”

“We are founded with the idea of bringing power to the people [and] improving lives,” he said. “We went to 38 countries to build power plants everywhere.”

AES used to be a utility for energy generation — mostly fossil fuel and hydro, according to Moreno.

“At one point, we decided to transform the company and be a green company,” he said. “But we did that over the past 10 years and are doing that in a pragmatic and responsible way.”

“We know that the transition needs time, needs to preserve capacity, reliability, [and] affordability at the same time as you green the systems,” he continued. “So we've been doing that in a slow way, building renewables, retiring capacity while we build more batteries, while we leave the systems that we operate in resilient.”

Moreno added that AES has about $40 billion of assets around the world. However, he noted, “the renewable revolution has transformed the company very fast.”

Centralization and a Sense of Urgency Are Necessary for Permitting Reforms

Moreno noted two important factors that will encourage reform: centralization and a sense of urgency.

“Countries that were able to centralize more on the decisions on what needs to be made were more successful,” he said “The more decentralized this is, the less ability you have to influence.”

Additionally, the sense of urgency has greatly impacted how successful permitting reforms have been.

“We've only seen really permitting reforms in places where the sense of urgency was very high,” Moreno said. “I worked in Europe for many years … and I saw how difficult it was to pass anything there because you needed all the member states to align behind anything.” 

However, he noted, because of the war in Ukraine and the urgency it created, “they did rally behind and started passing some things that affect all the member states.”

“That sense of urgency is needed,” Moreno said. “It’s the belief that you need to make some major changes that affect all states at the same time.”