The United States President Joe Biden’s ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is facing an unexpected challenge: permitting bottlenecks. If the president cannot streamline the permitting process for power plants, transmission lines, and other projects, the country is unlikely to have the infrastructure needed for a future powered by carbon-free electricity. For example, John Podesta, who worked on climate issues for President Obama nearly a decade ago, was confident that hundreds of miles of new power transmission lines were coming to the Southwest, expanding the reach of clean energy throughout the region. To his surprise, he found out that the lines had never been built.
The Vexing Challenge
John Podesta is now the point person for untangling one of Biden’s most vexing challenges. Even though both parties are interested in alleviating permitting bottlenecks, reaching an agreement will likely involve trade-offs that are difficult for Democrats and environmentalists to stomach. Republicans want to see more fossil fuels, and now that they control the House, no proposal will advance without their consent. But too many concessions to Republicans in the House could jeopardize support in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The Shift in Political Battle Lines
Although American industry and labor unions have long chafed at regulations, some environmentalists have now grown exasperated by red tape as well. That represents a stark change for a movement that has been more dedicated to slowing development than championing it, and it has caused unease among longtime allies even as it creates the potential for new partnerships. Nonetheless, this transformation is core to Biden’s vision of hard-hat environmentalism, which promises that shifting away from fossil fuels will generate blue-collar jobs.
Biden has approved Willow, an oil drilling project in an untouched swath of Alaskan wilderness, which has frustrated environmentalists. However, Podesta argues that it’s impossible to immediately phase out oil and gas, and he said the status quo won’t suffice when it comes to building clean energy infrastructure.
Biden’s climate plan is facing an unexpected challenge: permitting bottlenecks. Reaching an agreement will likely involve trade-offs that are difficult for Democrats and environmentalists to stomach. Nonetheless, Biden’s vision of hard-hat environmentalism promises that shifting away from fossil fuels will generate blue-collar jobs. Podesta argues that it’s impossible to immediately phase out oil and gas, and he said the status quo won’t suffice when it comes to building clean energy infrastructure.
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