Permitting reform has been a widely-debated topic in the U.S. for the past few years. To address inflation, produce more sustainable energy, and improve the country’s overall infrastructure, the U.S. must start implementing permitting reform measures.
However, much of the government has voted against legislation to help address these concerns. During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Permit America to Build event, Sen. Joe Manchin discussed the challenges he’s faced in his permitting process and potential solutions going forward.
The U.S. Must Prioritize Permitting Reforms and Act Now
According to Manchin, the U.S. missed a golden opportunity to act on permitting reform last year. Thankfully, he added, it isn’t too late to act now.
“This is a defining moment,” Manchin said. “I truly believe in my heart of hearts, this is the defining moment. If we don’t get it done this year, we don't get it done — because I don't think by 2024, in a heavy, hot contested election year, you're going to have this on the front of the burner.”
Manchin stated, as the superpower of the world, the U.S. should not be taking so long to get things accomplished.
“Energy security is national security,” said Manchin. “You cannot become and maintain the super status that we have as far as the superpower of the world unless you have reliable energy security, and in order to get energy security, we've got to be able to do things.”
“Permitting reform was part of the original bill that we put in what's called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA),” he continued. “We wrote that bill basically to be energy-secured and balanced. The main thing now is we have to make sure that the administration does what needs to be done in the way they attend in the bill.”
The Senate Should Not Wait for a Perfect Piece of Legislature to Take Proper Action
Manchin explained that he and his team worked on a piece of legislation that received 47 votes: 40 Democratic and seven Republican votes.
“The perfect can't be the enemy of the good. There's not going to be a perfect piece of legislation. I support basically having a piece of legislation that we can look at and make our piece of legislation even better,” he said. “I think it was wrong for the majority leader of the Senate to say that it was dead on arrival. Nothing should be dead on arrival.”
He added that the Senate could extract something positive from every piece of legislation coming from the House.
“I’ve yet to meet a person who was always wrong,” Manchin said. “I’ve learned from everybody, whether it’s been opponents of mine who have campaigned against me, whether it's been opposition in political parties … I've learned from every one of them because I was looking at why they would take a position they did and trying to find the best out of that to incorporate and make mine better, or make my position better, or make my thought process or a piece of legislation [better.]”
Manchin recognized that perfection was not the goal, but instead said the focus was the improvement of a much better piece of legislation.
U.S. Policymakers Must Address the Country’s Financial Crisis
According to Manchin, the U.S. currently has a growing financial crisis of $31.4 trillion.
“I think that this is something we should talk about,” he said. “We should try to get the trajectory to … get that debt under control.”
Manchin mentioned a quote his grandfather told him when he was younger: “Unmanaged debt will force you to make cowardly decisions.”
“We've got to get our financial house in order,” he continued. “It's been said that if we don’t [do so] by the year 2050, we will have $130 trillion of public debt. We'll be paying $5 trillion a year just in financing debt payments.”