Manchin Urges Faster Power Line Approval in Permitting Reform

Source: By Ari Nater, Bloomberg • Posted: Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Joe Manchin
Joe Manchin. Photographer: Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg

Senator Joe Manchin wants to speed the approval process for high-voltage power lines as he takes another run at pushing a broad permitting reform plan through Congress.

Changes to the approval and construction process for transmission lines have long been a priority for Democrats, who say they are needed to fully realize the benefits of President Joe Biden’s climate law and its hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies for renewables. But opposition from many Republicans and investor-owned utilities to the reforms has stalled broader efforts to speed energy project approvals sought by both parties in Congress.

Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is calling for allowing the federal government to step in when transmission line projects get “stuck at the state level,” according to a copy of his written remarks at a committee hearing on the topic being held Wednesday. The hearing represents the beginning of another push by the lawmaker on the issue after recently passed debt ceiling legislation only included modest permitting reforms.

Previous attempts at reforming the transmission permitting process failed after opposition from Republicans and some utilities over concerns it would give the federal government too much power in allocating the costs of new projects.

Manchin, in his opening remarks, called for the projects to be “fairly paid for, based on benefits received.”

“Over the last year there has been an attempt to paint transmission permitting reform as just another subsidy for intermittent renewable energy,” Manchin said. “If that were the case, I would not support it.”