Apr 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden completes permitting rule

Illustration of a hand in a suit with scissors about to cut a line of papers from a House bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The White House today unveiled final rules to speed up permitting for infrastructure projects — including transmission and low-carbon energy.

Why it matters: Accelerating timelines that often drag on for years would help realize the goals of the Democrats' 2022 climate law and the bipartisan 2021 infrastructure deal.

State of play: The Council on Environmental Quality rules, which implement permitting language in last year's debt ceiling agreement, include:

  • Wider use of "categorical exclusions," i.e. classes of projects exempt from detailed environmental review. It allows one agency to adopt exclusions used by another.
  • New deadlines and page limits for environmental studies and encouraging "programmatic" analyses that reduce project-specific study needed.
  • The rule requires agencies to focus on environmental justice.

It adds to other ways Biden officials say they're giving more resources and attention to getting projects across the finish line.

  • That includes roughly $1 billion in the 2022 law. Just yesterday the Federal Permitting Council announced $30 million for IT projects to boost efficiency.

Yes, but: The rules are rather modest compared with sweeping proposals that face long odds in Congress.

  • For instance, some lawmakers want firm deadlines on judicial reviews.

What we're watching: How much the new regulations really move the needle.

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