by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“What in the world is President Joe Biden thinking?” That’s what we asked ourselves when we saw the White House Council on Environmental Quality, or CEQ, had proposed a new environmental rule that would slow, if not stop altogether, the federal permitting of major infrastructure and energy projects that are necessary for our country to thrive.
The proposed rule is called the“Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule.” It would adopt the worst of California’s environmental policies and take them national.
In California, the similar policies flowing from the California Environmental Quality Act have contributed to the rise in annual uncontrollable fires, a through-the-roof cost of living compared to the rest of the country, and skyrocketing costs of housing that have created the worst homelessness crisis the nation has ever seen.
As a result, hordes of Californians have fled the state for good, as U-Haul statistics on one-way moves out of the state demonstrate. But where most of the country sees California as a masterclass on how not to run a state, Biden apparently sees the public policy wreckage and wants to make the country more like California anyway.
There are a number of problems with the proposed rule, but let’s focus on three.
First, the rule would require all federal agenciesto consider how projects subject to their approval will affect climate change. Scientists base climate change predictions on models, and even the most relied-upon models struggle to make accurate predictions of future temperatures across the globe. Expecting bureaucrats to predict the climate change impact from a single permitted project is asking for the impossible.
This climate change impact requirement would cause significant delays in project approvals and discourage new projects. California’s environmental laws, which require much the same, have proved as much.