We have seen the Center for Biological Diversity mentioned in his newsletters before, but this week Bill McKibben links to this recently released document. The Center offers a positive and progressive consideration of priorities we should give to permitting renewable energy, contrasting efforts to gut regulatory protections related to fossil fuel permitting highlighted in his current newsletter:
It is indisputable that the climate emergency requires the United States to rapidly transform its majority fossil energy system to 100% clean and renewable energy.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent sixth synthesis report makes absolutely clear that an unprecedented bold transition to renewable energy with an equally aggressive effort to halt new fossil fuel development and phase out existing fossil fuel usage is absolutely vital to avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of climate change (1). This necessary transformation presents a tremendous opportunity to pursue a far more just path forward—one that ends the status quo entrenchment of the fossil fuel industry; empowers federal agencies to use their authorities to accelerate the transitions to a justly sourced, justly implemented, resilient, and equitable power system; actualizes the principles of environmental justice; and preserves our core environmental laws. This system is composed of our most commonsense and affordable solutions that can be deployed in an efficient and just manner: energy conservation, distributed and resilient renewable energy and storage, and responsibly-sited utility-scale renewables, all paired with robust community engagement and opportunities for real energy democracy.
However, both Congress and the Biden administration are failing to exercise their imaginations to embed justice in a
renewable energy future.
After the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, both Democratic and Republican Congress members have proposed numerous “permitting reform” proposals, but the majority continue to argue that achieving a fast transition to renewable energy necessarily means undermining bedrock environmental laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
This false logic must be interrogated. While these proposals might marginally improve the deployment of utility-scale renewable energy particularly on pristine lands, our energy needs can and must also be met with renewable energy on built surfaces that is more resilient, affordable, and respectful toward communities and wildlands.
Furthermore, any such purported gains of “permitting reform” proposals would be massively dwarfed by the emissions of fossil fuel projects that would also be expedited and result in deepening substantial environmental injustices for countless communities around the nation…
Read the whole brief here.