Key Democrat now says open to energy permitting reform if 'part of a transition process'

"It wasn't about no, a definitive line-in-the-sand no," says Rep. Raul Grijalva, who along with 70 other House Democrats wrote a letter to Pelosi in September opposing inclusion of permitting reform in the CR. "What I said was make it comprehensive."

Updated: October 5, 2022 - 2:17am

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Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) says he's open to "comprehensive" energy permitting reform that includes multiple energy sources after he opposed the deal Democratic leaders reached with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), which was ultimately removed from the spending bill President Biden recently signed into law.

"It has to be comprehensive," Grijalva, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, told Just the News during an interview on Capitol Hill. "It can't be as narrow as it was in that, and it can't all be tailored to one source of energy production. And of course you're open to discussions, but the way that was narrowed, and the way that it multiplied burden on [Environmental Justice] and frontline communities and rural communities and tribes, no, and that's where the opposition came from."

"It wasn't about no, a definitive line-in-the sand no. What I said was make it comprehensive: If you want to expedite it, you need resources in that process. So it's not a no, and obviously I'm open to discussion and negotiations, but it can't just be one way." 

Manchin had reached a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in August to cast the deciding vote in favor of the Democrats' $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for a promise from Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Biden to include language streamlining the energy project permitting process in the next continuing resolution spending bill. 

Grijalva, along with 70 other House Democrats, wrote a letter to Pelosi in September opposing the inclusion of permitting reform in the bill.

Manchin ultimately asked Schumer to remove the language from the legislation ahead of the Senate vote. The abandoned agreement would have sped up the permitting process for energy and required "relevant agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation" of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is a project that Manchin has long wanted to deliver for his home state.

Asked now if he's open to energy permitting reform that includes fossil fuel projects, Grijalva said: "As part of a transition process, absolutely, but it has to be part of a transition process. This was not transition. It was reinforcement."