Reported Changes to Permitting Process Would Increase Risks to Communities, Stifle Critical Public Input

Statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Aug 19, 2022

WASHINGTON (August 19, 2022)—With the recent signing of the reconciliation bill, Congress’s attention is turning to proposed reforms to the permitting process for energy development—a “side deal” that, according to news reports, helped secure key votes for the just-passed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. But these fossil fuel-driven proposals to change the permitting process will put communities at risk: limiting their opportunity to weigh in on the harms of infrastructure projects, especially the public health and environmentally damaging effects of fossil fuel extraction, transportation, and use, and potentially undermining climate goals, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of UCS.

“Federal agencies and industries can’t just evade the need to consider public input on projects. Bedrock laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, and the public comment process they uphold exist for a reason: because the people whose air, water, and land will be impacted by infrastructure and energy projects deserve the chance to raise their concerns and speak out about how those projects will affect their lives. It’s deeply troubling that a permitting reform bill would let polluting industries put their thumb on the scale to try to avoid taking responsibility for the potential harms of their actions.

“We will oppose any permitting bill measures that undermine public health and safety, that risk increasing heat-trapping emissions, or that give the fossil fuel industry the chance to ignore or bypass the rules offering community members a say in what happens to their health and to the places they live. This public input process is especially important for the communities who have long been marginalized and sidelined in our nation’s energy choices and borne the brunt of its pollution. These communities must have a say in the future direction of energy infrastructure, aligned with climate and environmental justice goals.”