While the drumbeat of “climate change” and bad ideas like a carbon tax proliferate, State leaders in Utah have outlined a sensible “all of the above” energy policy that follows common sense: maintaining strong baseline power sources like clean coal and natural gas while allowing the needed time and market innovation to fully develop alternative sources like nuclear, wind, solar or other ideas. This will ensure that Utah does not slowly starve to death in the dark while chasing climate hysteria like some other states. However, a broken, inefficient federal permitting process that is bogged down by government regulations currently stands in the way of progress on energy and infrastructure development and drives policy making towards poor tax policy, including a carbon tax or other economy-killing taxes that only drive up the cost of energy.

 While Utah formulates its future, it is imperative for lawmakers in Washington to pass common sense federal permitting reform this legislative session. The Utah delegation can and should lead out on this issue. Senator Mike Lee sits on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and Senator Mitt Romney should help lead on this issue and make federal permitting reform a top congressional priority. In the House of Representatives, all of Utah’s Congressional delegation can pitch into the effort as well. Congressman John Curtis not only sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, he also Chairs the Conservative Climate Caucus. Congressman Blake Moore now sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and can help steer efforts toward fixing this problem. 

Currently, the inefficiencies in our nation’s permitting process create lengthy delays in getting what should otherwise be shovel-ready projects off the ground. Between siting, permitting, and reviews, the entire process has become too burdensome and lengthy. Environmental reviews alone can take several years—sometimes more than a full ten years—to complete. This boondoggle makes all of the talk about “fixing climate change” or “making energy more secure and affordable”  nothing but hot air. Development for nuclear power can happen all day long for example, however at this point it seems like a permit for actually operating such a power source will never be approved.

 It can take even longer when multiple jurisdictions are involved, which happens with many projects depending on the type of infrastructure under review and its geographic location. Some projects may be solely under the authority of a federal agency, while others may be under state or local authority because they are sited on federal lands or rely on federal spending. Often, this results in investors and developers having to navigate a web of federal, state, and local agencies all with their own permitting and review processes.

Not only does this convoluted process create delays in the physical construction of new infrastructure projects, but it also increases costs, wastes taxpayers’ money, decreases overall investment, and undermines the financial viability of these projects—scaring off investors by eliminating any incentive to invest. Additionally, the broken federal permitting process delays the many economic benefits of infrastructure investments from ever reaching our communities in Utah.

Businesses, investors, and taxpayers throughout Utah and across the country would benefit from a more simplified, streamlined, and coordinated permitting process. Through permitting reform, elected officials in Washington can show their commitment to not only improving America’s infrastructure, but in strengthening our economy, securing and bolstering domestic energy production, and helping the United States remain competitive on the global stage. 

Closer to home, permitting reform will allow local businesses, industries, and job creators to continue to grow and strengthen Utah’s economy, in turn allowing responsible, fiscally minded policymakers to continue working to make our state more competitive by cutting taxes and encouraging even more economic growth.

The good news is that, despite the partisan divide in Washington, there are issues that should be receiving bipartisan support-  that should exist for permitting reform. We just need leaders who will step up to the plate and help deliver for Utah businesses, taxpayers, and our entire economy.

Hopefully, just as they have before, our Utah delegation in the Senate and House will rise to yet another challenge and help lead the way on bipartisan federal permitting reform. This would allow Utah to continue to lead the way in common sense energy policy, lower energy costs and steer clear of disastrous tax policy.