Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Manchin Releases Proposal For Permitting Reform

Washington, D.C.—Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) released his much-anticipated permitting reform text, but initially it appeared to do little to resolve bipartisan opposition or clear a path to a continuous resolution (CR) needed to keep the government temporarily funded.

Key provisions call for a two-year target for environmental reviews for certain major energy and natural resource projects, a one-year target for other projects, a lead agency to coordinate reviews, 150-day statute of limitations on court challenges and dispute resolution procedures for resolving disagreements.

 “No matter what you want to build, whether it’s transmission pipelines or hydropower dams, more often than not, it takes too long and drives up costs,” Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said as he was preparing to release the text.

“We’ve got a good piece of legislation that is extremely balanced.”

He also expressed confidence in a commitment he reached with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Joe Biden to pass permitting reform before the end of the current fiscal year.

That commitment was reached to get the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed.

Despite stout opposition from fellow Democrats, Schumer repeatedly has said Manchin’s permitting reform provisions will be added to a CR he wants to keep federal agencies funded through mid-December.

“The permitting reform is part of the IRA, and I intend to add it to the CR and get it done,” he told reporters when pressed once again on the topic.

Democrats opposing Manchin’s proposal include Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, and more than 70 House Democrats. They view the proposal as too weak on environmental protections.

Without Republican support in the evenly divided Senate, opposition by Sanders alone would appear to doom the entire effort.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated Manchin will get no votes from his side of the aisle.

“All of us I believe voted for Shelley Capito’s permitting bill,” McConnell said, referring to a bill introduced by Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Manchin’s fellow West Virginian.

“That’s the one most of us feel would actually make a difference.”

Senate Work Schedule

With government funding still unresolved, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his chamber will continue to meet into October.

That development takes the Senate’s current work session past September 30, when funding for federal agencies expires.

October 1 marks the beginning of fiscal year 2023.

“We will be meeting in October,” Schumer told reporters when asked about a scheduled recess.

“There is one week we can’t meet because of the Yom Kippur holiday, but we will be meeting in October.”

In addition to more time to resolve the government funding issue, that development also provides additional legislative days for votes on must-pass measures such as a National Defense Authorization Act, which has been passed annually for more than 60 years.

“NDAA will be part of what we do,” Schumer said.

Leaders of both parties are expected to do whatever is necessary to avoid even a partial government shutdown.

Low-Carbon Shipping

MarAd announced the launch of a 16-month study exploring low-carbon options for shipping on the Great Lakes.

“Decarbonizing the maritime industry has been a key objective of the Biden-Harris administration, and MarAd is excited to be part of a study that will investigate new fuel and power options for Great Lakes shipping,” MarAd Administrator Ann Phillips said.

The binational Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System is one of the largest commercial waterways in the country, extending to more than 2,000 miles and containing more than 110 ports.

Led by the International Council on Clean Transportation, the research group will assess the suitability of alternative fuels and power options for Great Lakes shipping.

Others involved in partnership include the American Bureau of Shipping and the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers.

For additional information, contact MarAd at maradpressoffice@dot.gov.

TSA Administrator

By a vote of 77 to 18, the Senate confirmed David Pekoske for a second five-year term as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Pekoske was nominated for his first term as TSA head by then-President Donald Trump and confirmed in August 2017.

He was nominated for his second term by President Joe Biden and confirmed this month. 

Previously Pekoske, a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, served as the 26th vice commandant of the Coast Guard.