It is the Chamber’s position that siting and permitting laws be streamlined so that decisions are made quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, as this site proves again and again, this is not the case. The entire process is ripe for abuse, and often is abused. For instance, consider the following quote from a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) in September 2008:
In February 2008, the administration issued 487 leases in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, which holds an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and other groups used the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act to challenge and delay progress on all 487 leases. In a separate lawsuit, they challenged the entire national outer continental shelf (OCS) leasing program, seeking to block all future leases.
Even if a lease makes it through these challenges, it isn’t clear sailing. Right now, there are 748 leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Exploration activities in every single one were challenged in May of this year by EarthJustice in conjunction with others.
The Alaskan OCS contains 26 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Not one offshore lease has escaped litigation.
The full op-ed is available here.
When a group can misuse the administrative and judicial process to delay a project that has complied with every aspect of the law, there is a problem with the system. There may in fact be a valid reason for an energy project not to be allowed at a particular site. However, forcing the developer to spend countless years (and millions of dollars) to figure this out is hardly the way to conduct business in this country—especially when many of these developers are trying to bring alternative and renewable energy projects online. For this reason, the U.S. Chamber believes Congress should streamline the siting and permitting laws that give rise to this kind of abuse, and deliver some regulatory certainty to energy companies that are becoming increasingly discouraged from starting a new project in the U.S.