Katie McGinty and Jim Connaughton
Co-authors Aspen Institute report: “Building Cleaner, Faster”

We need more energy infrastructure. 

But energy permitting regulations — primarily established through the National Environmental Policy Act — are not matching the pace of the transition needed if we’re to meet our net-zero goals.

Sen. Joe Manchin has been trying to pass permitting reform for more than 20 months, and his most recent proposal catapulted the issue into the national spotlight. Manchin’s bill aims to reform environmental review and permitting processes. Most notably, it would reduce the time it takes to get an energy project approved. 

The bill faces opposition from both the right and the left. Some Democrats have criticized the bill as a sop to big oil. And some conservatives argue that it lacks clear and meaningful implementation requirements.

Since Manchin couldn’t muster enough support for the proposal, it was ultimately pulled. 

Without permitting reform, the U.S. will struggle to build new energy projects, putting climate targets and energy security at risk. What will it take to pass bi-partisian legislation? And how can regulatory review balance environmental protection and infrastructure development? 

This week host Bill Loveless interviews Katie McGinty and Jim Connaughton. 

Katie is the vice president and chief sustainability and external relations officer for Johnson Controls. She was the first woman to serve as chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as deputy assistant to President Clinton. 

Jim Connaughton is the chairperson of Nautilus Data Technologies. He served as the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality for the George W. Bush administration as well as the director of the White House Office of Environmental Policy. He is a member of the advisory committee for Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Last year, Katie and Jim co-authored a report for the Aspen Institute titled “Building Cleaner, Faster.” It concluded that environmental review and permitting reform were necessary to decarbonize the economy. 

Bill talked with Katie and Jim about permitting reform, Sen. Manchin’s proposed bill, and why new legislation is so important for building new energy infrastructure.