Governors Discuss Streamlined Permitting for Infrastructure Projects

U.S. governors recently gathered in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Annual Meeting. During the meeting, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper convened a discussion with private sector representatives on improving and streamlining permitting processes to meet the infrastructure needs within the states.

NGA’s commentary on the discussion highlighted the need for “common-sense solutions to safely speed up the process to deliver energy and infrastructure” projects and to better utilize federal funds provided to the states under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Stitt noted Oklahoma’s national importance as an energy-producing state, but energy stakeholders informed him that it “takes 10 years to permit and six months to build” and complete projects. Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Verizon Regional Vice President Tony Lewis also highlighted the role of litigation in slowing critical infrastructure projects.

National Grid in New England President Steve Woerner acknowledged that the northeast electric grid is at an “inflection point” in the movement towards clean energy systems to meet state and local goals for reducing greenhouse gas emission. The current grid needs to quickly be expanded and upgraded in order to have the capacity to meet electrification demand. These investments will require permits, but Woerner said he believes that “a process that is more streamlined, transparent and accessible to all” can be achieved if the private and public sectors work together.

The recognition by U.S. governors of the fundamental role of permitting processes in delaying critical infrastructure projects may increase the debate for needed reforms at every level of government for both public and private sector projects. NAIOP and its chapters have been advocating for permitting reforms that provide a more consistent, transparent and predictable process for commercial development and fewer opportunities for litigation.