A group of Democrats in the House of Representatives, who are part of a sustainability coalition, presented a narrow proposal to approve permits on Monday as part of wider talks about how to reshape the country’s energy authorization process.
The new policy brief, published by House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) leaders, focuses closely on strengthening the country’s power infrastructure and involving communities in evaluating energy projects.
“This policy brief sets out some of the key legislative solutions Congress should address when considering reforming our laws to create a clean-energy future,” the introduction to the letter states.
Negotiations to approve reforms are complex, as large sections of Democrats and Republicans would need to be on board on a range of issues where the two parties remain far apart.
Some SEEC leaders, including Co-Chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Deputy Chairmen Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.), were part of a grand coalition of Democrats who spoke out against Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to allow reform.
The Sustainability Coalition’s new pitch promotes legislation that, in the opinion of lawmakers, would give the federal government more powers to approve some electrical transmission lines, strengthen grid stability and promote the development of solar and offshore wind in the community.
It also called for greater community involvement by producing reports on whether projects are affecting community health and establishing environmental justice liaison points for such projects.
Manchin has fought to speed up the approval process for fossil and renewable energy projects. With support from Democratic leadership, he recently tried to pass legislation that would provide for shorter timelines for environmental impact assessments and approval of a pipeline in his home state.
Manchin’s move was met with headwinds from both sides. Democrats led by MP Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) have raised concerns that Manchin’s move could hamper the environmental review process and benefit polluting fossil fuels.
Separately, in a new letter to House leadership on Monday, Grijalva reiterated his request to exclude the package from the upcoming funding rules required for passage for both government spending and military spending.
In the meantime, Republicans have argued that Manchin’s proposal did not go far enough. In particular, they have pushed for stricter restrictions on how long authorities can take to study the potential environmental impacts of a project.
Some have also spoken out against working with the senator after he supported the Democrats’ climate, tax, and health care bill.