Joe Manchin’s legacy now hinges on license reform

By C. Boyden Gray and Michael Buschbacher

The National Environmental Policy Act 1970 no longer serves its purpose. For decades, activist courts have turned the law’s modest environmental review requirement into a legal nightmare. Each year, hundreds of NEPA lawsuits filed by anti-development activists add huge delays and multi-million dollar costs to the nation’s most critical infrastructure projects, often without any corresponding environmental benefit.

One of the most insightful critics of this dysfunctional system has been West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. While we disagree with much of the Cut Inflation Act — which passed the Senate on Sunday and is likely awaiting House approval — we were heartened to see Mr. Manchin secured a commitment to NEPA reform later this year. The initial list of efficiency-oriented reforms is a good start, but it should be just that: a start. Without fundamental changes, militant litigation will continue to put a 100-pound inch on the scales against the development of crucial energy infrastructure. Mr. Manchin must now pivot to turn the vague commitment of his fellow Democrats into serious policy.


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