WASHINGTON — Automakers represented by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation have joined nearly 350 business, labor and trade groups urging Congress to pass a permitting reform bill before summer’s end.
In a letter sent Monday to congressional leaders, the diverse coalition — led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — called on lawmakers to pass “meaningful and durable” legislation that would modernize the permitting process for a variety of domestic energy projects, including critical mineral mining to support the production of electric vehicle batteries.
The groups, which include state and local chambers as well as the American Clean Power Association, American Gas Association, Business Roundtable and National Mining Association, argue the U.S. permitting process is outdated, with federal permits taking up to seven and a half years on average to be approved depending on the project.
“Our permitting system is fundamentally broken, and it is delaying the investments that we desperately need in energy, transportation, broadband, technology and countless other sectors,” Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “It should never take longer to get a permit than it does to build a project, and it is long past time for Congress to act.”
The letter comes as the House is expected to take up a sweeping Republican energy package that includes provisions on reforming the permitting process for all industries.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has called the package a “nonstarter” and “dead-on-arrival” in the upper chamber.
“The package is a wish list for ‘Big Oil,’ gutting important environmental safeguards on fossil fuel projects, while doing none of the important permitting reforms that would help bring transmission and clean energy projects online faster,” Schumer said in a March 15 floor speech.
To be sure, the group’s letter does not back specific legislation but instead offers broad principles on predictability, efficiency, transparency and stakeholder input in the permitting process.
The alliance, which also represents some auto suppliers and tech companies, has said permitting reform for new critical mineral mines is “imperative” to meeting electrification goals.
In the U.S., it can take up to 10 years for a mine to receive approval to operate, according to the National Mining Association.
“In contrast, Canada and Australia have adopted effective mineral permitting policies that enable producers to complete the process in two to three years, while maintaining stringent environmental standards,” the alliance said in comments submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior in July.
Ford Motor Co. and Rivian also have urged the Biden administration to expedite the permitting process for critical mineral mining projects that support domestic battery production for EVs.