In the face of a broken permitting system, the U.S. has encountered delays in improving its infrastructure due to outdated processes. However, Congress can enact legislation that will update the United State’s permitting processes to help the country move forward with critical projects nationwide, such as improvements to bridges, roads, and broadband access.
During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Permit America to Build event, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), focused on ways Congress can improve the permitting system and address the U.S.’s growing debt problem and highlighted the benefits that can come from doing so to improve and strengthen our nation.
Congress Must Commit to Fighting the Climate Crisis
Since starting his first job at the Delaware Division of Economic Development, Carper has been committed not only to helping companies achieve prosperity but to helping those employed and those served by said organizations. That commitment still holds today, with a devotion to creating a better quality of life.
“I'm committed to ensuring access to clean air and clean water for all Americans, regardless of their zip code,” Carper said. “I've always believed that we can do this while fostering economic growth and prosperity… To say we can't have both a better, safer planet [with] clean air [and] clean water, and jobs — I think that's a false choice. We can do both.”
According to Carper, his experiences have shaped the foundation of his leadership today. Now, he’s urging Congress to address these mounting issues — including the nation’s permitting system — and find solutions to improve infrastructure.
“To me, there's no question that Congress has an important role to play in supporting the deployment of clean energy projects across our country,” Carper said. “We're running out of time to address the greatest threat that we currently face on our planet: the climate crisis.”
The Climate Crisis Is Costing Our Nation Billions — and It’s Not Slowing Down
A resident of Delaware, Carper has seen the climate crisis’s impact first-hand, as his home state sinks due to sea levels rising at a faster rate than the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expected.
“[NOAA predicted] we could see a foot of sea level rise by 2050 due to climate change, [which] would be devastating to… low-lying states,” Carper said. “The climate crisis is already costing us a lot… Last year, [NOAA] found that there were 18 climate disasters in the United States with losses exceeding $1 billion each.”
Carper cited reports that show we’re on track to reach “the critical tipping point of one and a half degrees Celsius,” as states like Louisiana lose pieces of land the size of a football field every 100 minutes. However, with the U.S.’s existing permitting processes, improving the country’s infrastructure promptly has proven to be a challenge.
“All of us know that this is bad for business, for families, [and] for all of us,” Carper said. “Climate change threatens the stability of many critical industries, from agriculture to energy to tourism, and the list goes on.”
Finding a Solution to the Climate Crisis Will Require Swift Action
To counter the climate crisis and ensure the longevity of critical industries, Carper stressed the importance of transitioning the economy to run on clean energy.
“We must build infrastructure today that puts us on a pathway to meet our nation's climate goals,” he said.
According to Carper, tremendous progress has recently been made in support of the development of infrastructure projects nationwide.
“Last Congress, we provided nearly … $370 billion in clean energy and climate investments through tax incentives, grants, and … the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA),” Carper said. “[And] in the bipartisan infrastructure law, [we included] the first-ever climate title in a transportation reauthorization bill and more than $20 billion in transportation climate investments.”
Carper spotlighted key provisions which were included to “address some of the challenges slowing down the development of infrastructure projects in our country.”
“We provided meaningful new authorities to facilitate more timely environmental reviews for infrastructure projects,” he said.
Ultimately, by improving the U.S.’s environmental permitting processes, the U.S. can more easily build infrastructure to support the future of the nation.
“Bipartisan solutions are lasting solutions,” Carper emphasized.