On January 4, 2023, Fred Wagner was quoted in Inside EPA on the EPA and other agencies’ expectant rule changes that will advance the Biden administration’s clean energy priorities.
According to the article, Congress is unlikely to approve permit reforms in 2023, the EPA and other agencies are expected to propose rule changes that will seek to advance the Biden administrations clean energy priorities, but they will face a host of potential hurdles, including concerns from environmental justices (EJ) advocates, likely opposition from congressional Republicans and potential legal limitations from the Supreme Court.
Wagner says the Biden administration has strong incentives to demonstrate that clean energy infrastructure projects are not being held up by permit and other environmental reviews and to expect individual agencies to advance reforms.
As examples, Wagner cites a recent request by the Department of Energy seeking input on opportunities to expand categorical exclusions under NEPA and an expected hiring frenzy by the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, which was awarded significant new funding under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The council should be available to many more agencies and project proponents to resolve disputes and move things more quickly, he said.
Commenting on the prospect the possibility of Congress coming to an agreement, Wagner said that an agreement can be reached, “especially” with divided government. “That’s where I depart from conventional wisdom.” He cited past experiences of “strange bedfellows” on Senate committees who would come to an agreement “when they felt something needed to be done.”
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