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New BPC Report Finds the Goldilocks Zone for Energy Permitting Reform

Washington, DC – Without bipartisan congressional action to reform the permitting processes for energy infrastructure projects, it will be nearly impossible for the United States to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a strategic guide analyzing 70 policy ideas to inform congressional negotiations and develop an effective, politically viable package of reforms for the energy infrastructure permitting system.

“When we look at the policy options available to us today that can ensure we maintain energy affordability, accelerate the energy transition, and unlock capital to modernize America’s energy infrastructure, permitting reform is the most important thing we can do,” said Sasha Mackler, executive director of the energy program at BPC.

The report, Finding the Goldilocks Zone for Permitting Reform, is based on six previous BPC issue briefs, which were informed by a series of stakeholder roundtables over the past year. These discussions brought together a diverse set of permitting experts and advocacy stakeholders—under Chatham House Rule—to candidly evaluate different policy options on the basis of both impact and political acceptability.

“Getting permitting reform right requires a keen understanding of the policy levers and the political fault lines,” said Xan Fishman, senior director of the Energy Program at BPC. “Finding the balance that combines efficiency and appropriate safeguards is the goal of our Goldilocks zone.”

The report then ranked the policy options across two dimensions: effectiveness and controversy. Effectiveness being the likelihood of each policy option to achieve its stated goal, incorporating environmental and public protection—core tenants of an efficient permitting process, and controversy being the degree and the intensity to which a particular policy option is likely to face opposition from stakeholders, including policymakers, developers, and the public.

The resulting matrix is intended to help guide Congress in finding the Goldilocks zone of an effective and politically viable package of reforms.

Read the Report

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