Are progressive The Problem when it comes to the slow pace of clean-energy buildout? Are they so attached to slowing down fossil fuel development that they're willing to slow clean energy? Not according to them! I talk with the co-author of a new paper on a progressive approach to permitting about the right way to speed up.
I personally would have liked more specifics about how the NEPA delays compare the other delays. Lots of the discussion felt fairly hand-wavy, particularly compared to the typical Volts podcast. I don't have any reason to doubt the claims that NEPA is not the primary blocker, but I'd have loved to get better detail regarding these rebuttals.
I'm disappointed you did not push harder on the conflict between doing lots of lengthy studies, and building enough fast enough. I mean look at There is a LOT of research on this. The federalized structure of the US where any dinky local jurisdiction can de-rail a project, and the permitting system where anyone can litigate things to death, just _is_ a major cause of high costs.
We see CEQA deployed to prevent converting a flat parking lot into infill housing. We see "historic preservation" used to protect a "historic gas station". And isn't the stat that federally we have as much potential renewable generation in the NEPA queue, as everything that already has been built?
Yes, if we adjust the rules and streamline things, probably some stuff will get built that we don't like. And sure we should try to adjust the rules in a way that minimizes that. But there really is a tradeoff between control and speed. If you optimize for preventing anything we won't like from ever getting built, you 100% are going to slow down the good stuff beyond what is acceptable if we want to meet our climate goals. The "abundance progressives" like Ezra Klein, Noah Smith, and Matt Yglesias, are just _substantively correct_ about this stuff.
1. Proponents of an energy transition should not be saying "Wind and solar take more space up than one natural gas plant." That plant is just the proverbial "tip of the iceberg." There are those pipelines, the compressor stations, driers and separator mini-refineries, etc., but most crucially the hundreds of production wells, injection wells, gathering lines, roads sprawled over hell and gone. And these are 80% depleted in a decade, so the whole shit show needs to be repeated up the next holler or plateau.
And each well has a mile of pipe and grout left in the ground in addition to the astounding quantity, in the thousands of tons, of frac sand for each.
I thought that Johanna Bozuwa did a great and thorough job of telling us the ins and outs of NEPA, as well as all of the other entities, such as States, Feds, and local, who are in the mix of delegating their authorities to putting solar, wind et al., available in a pretty fast manner. She also gave examples of the CA and TX cases where they are really accelerating.
IRA and its finding strategy is intended to "intervene" on federalism approach by funding and building capacity at the community level which is intended to change (through the climate pollution reduction grants and associated State and MSA state climate action plans) how local government work with community and each other as a way to experiment and enact local policies (as part of programs) that include land use planning (that is a local government responsibility) that can be scaled to states as a way to work from community level up and support as the speaker referenced do what is called presumptive NEPA reviews and other assessments with state or regional coalitions including environmental interest groups and etc. Feds have a limited role but can be a convenor in addition as a land owner. Also - feds to a lot of this is supporting water and water ways that the Army Corp of Engineers have authority to do which could be an equivalent model. Also another and new agency worth looking into to accelerate permitting across agencies -- the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council -- https://www.permits.performance.gov/
It’s interesting that Texas is the state producing the most total renewable energy. And boy is it cheap! Isn’t that why all the crypto-dudes who got kicked out of China moved to TX? Regulatory Heaven…No problem with permitting there! But then, surprise!, BigOil&Gas just spit on the federal offshore wind lease sale on the Gulf Coast. Pumping shale oil in West TX must use just a bleep-load of wind power. Looks like they must have so much surplus onshore wind, they aren’t ready to embrace their massive surplus offshore resources, not to mention geothermal, they’ll one day be using to make synthetic jet fuel & ammonia.
Another great podcast and interview. Thanks, David.