In an op-ed to the RealClear Energy, Harrison Godfrey outlines a proposal to Congress to reform the permitting process and pair it with support for reuse and recycling of advanced energy tech.
Solar and wind are now the most affordable sources of electricity in the U.S., overtaking fossil fuels. Advances in battery storage are bringing electric vehicles (EVs) – already more cost-effective to charge and maintain – into price parity with their petroleum-fueled counterparts.
Making the switch from an economy chained to fossil fuel commodities to one built on advanced energy technologies bolsters our energy independence. Using these technologies cuts emissions and improves public health.
Enabling this transformation, however, will require more commodities of a different variety: critical minerals. Nickel, graphite, lithium and more underpin advanced energy – in addition to copper, which should be classified as a critical mineral too.
Building durable advanced energy manufacturing here requires developing a secure mineral supply chain. As recent disruptions, wrought by COVID and rising geopolitical tensions illustrate, there’s no substitute for supply chains grounded in robust domestic production and smart trade agreements. Unfortunately, our present permitting regime has constrained U.S. production when it needs to grow. According to the National Mining Association it takes two years to secure necessary permits in Canada and Australia, countries with comparable environmental regulations, but seven to ten in the U.S., four to five times as long.
Top of Congress’s to-list? Pass permitting reform for critical minerals, as well as advanced energy projects and transmission. Reform should improve transparency and reduce the time for permit review, so capital isn’t stranded. It should clarify the responsibilities of permitting authorities, provide for accelerated dispute resolution, and set standards for judicial review, so projects aren’t hamstrung by endless litigation. And it must be coupled with additional funding, so regulators have the staff and resources to do their job efficiently. Permitting reform enjoys broad support. Recently, we were pleased to join the U.S. Chamber, American Clean Power, LiUNA, the Citizens Climate Lobby and over 360 other organizations advocating for reform.
We can make this transition while protecting our environment. Advanced energy technologies are dramatically cleaner to operate. They can also be more sustainable to produce because their core commodities – copper, lithium, nickel, and more – can be readily reused and recycled. You can’t recycle a barrel of oil, by contrast. So, while the switch from fossil fuels to advanced energy will require more mining now, over the longer term this industry can steadily shrink its extractive footprint if we also build a durable, domestic reuse and recycling sector for advanced energy. Moreover, reusing and recycling the minerals America does import will further reduce our reliance on foreign sources.
Read the full article here.