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What we're hearing: Permitting's 'rough path'

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Sep 13, 2023
Rep. Garret Graves

Graves in July. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Rep. Garret Graves thinks environmental permitting talks have a "rough path forward right now" amid implementation disputes between House Republicans and the White House.

Why it matters: Graves was Speaker Kevin McCarthy's top negotiator on the debt ceiling deal, and his posture suggests there's little near-term chance of a second permitting deal.

Driving the news: "The White House bastardized the new law changes that they were given to actually improve things, and now they're asking for new authority," Graves told Axios as he hustled into McCarthy's office Tuesday night.

  • "Why in the hell would we give them new authority?" he said.

Context: Congress made the first major changes to the National Environmental Policy Act in decades as part of the debt deal.

  • The White House Council on Environmental Quality is angering many Republicans by implementing that law alongside its own proposals to add climate change and other considerations to environmental reviews.
  • If the White House revisited its implementation, "it would show integrity and trust, and I think we'd be willing to have a second round of negotiations," Graves said.
  • CEQ spokesperson Alyssa Roberts said its rule "fully and faithfully implements new permitting efficiencies directed by Congress through the Fiscal Responsibility Act."

Our thought bubble: This isn't a new take from Graves, who has been criticizing the Biden administration's handling of the debt deal for weeks.

  • But as a temperature check, it's not great for those who'd like to see another deal to overhaul environmental laws and transmission policy.
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