Biden administration proposes new rules for solar permitting on federal lands


By Kelsey Misbrener | July 28, 2023

On July 28, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a proposed rule (released July 31) that would fully implement and expand the new permitting efficiencies required by Congress under the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. The White House says the CEQ Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule would modernize and accelerate environmental assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), encourage early community engagement, accelerate America's clean energy future, strengthen energy security and advance environmental justice.

CEQ has already clarified and restored basic safeguards for environmental assessments and provided guidance to agencies on how to address climate change and greenhouse gas emissions so fewer projects face litigation and more projects get built right the first time, the White House said.

“Today's proposed rule implementing bipartite permitting reform will help reduce permitting times for solar and transmission projects on federal lands that are critical to strengthening America's energy security and combating climate change. We are pleased that the White House is prioritizing environmental protection and community engagement in NEPA reviews, as well as establishing clear review deadlines that ensure timely implementation of projects," said Sean Gallagher, senior VP of policy for SEIA, in a press statement.

"This is an important step in our national effort to decarbonize the economy while ensuring a reliable, affordable power supply, and we look forward to continuing to work with the government to realize our shared vision of clean energy," he continued away.

The White House says these reforms will further advance the Biden-Harris administration's strategy to ensure federal environmental assessments and permitting processes are effective, efficient and transparent, guided by the best available science to deliver positive environmental and health benefits Promoting community outcomes and driven by early and meaningful public engagement and input.

"These reforms to federal environmental testing will allow for better decisions, faster approvals, and more participation and buy-in from local people," said Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "This rule is a key element of President Biden's permitting reform agenda, which will help us accelerate the construction of our clean energy future while reducing pollution and harm in communities that have been excluded and left behind for far too long."

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