Earlier this year, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This law funded many significant investments that are exactly what Utah needs to build a stronger, more resilient, more sustainable energy future. For instance, it invests $7.5 billion in electric vehicle infrastructure, which will help create a much-needed national network of EV charging stations. However, many of those investments could be wasted if Congress does not address another critical policy priority this upcoming session: reforming our broken federal permitting process.

The federal permitting process has become far too cumbersome and time-consuming in recent years, often taking many years to complete, if at all. The inefficiencies and redundancies in the permitting process can and often do lead to massive delays that can prevent the physical construction of new energy and infrastructure projects from ever being built. And often, if it is ever built, it is almost always after much wasted time, increased costs and undermining its financial viability.

If we are going to make the most of these infrastructure investments, we need Congress to streamline and simplify the overly-complex federal permitting process. Doing so would give the Utah Legislature the tools we need to foster a positive policy environment that encourages economic growth by helping advance key clean energy, infrastructure and other economic development projects in communities throughout our state.

Given the legislature’s efforts over the years to improve Utah’s air quality, it is also worth acknowledging that permitting reform would not require sacrificing any environmental standards. All that this commonsense permitting reform would do is increase transparency and ensure that best practices are used so that project approvals would be more efficient, predictable and coordinated between agencies. This would help reduce the duplication of efforts that can happen in complex, multijurisdictional processes, saving valuable time and money.

Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act also proved that there is agreement from both political parties on the need to improve our federal permitting process. With the help from individuals like Sen. Mitt Romney, Congress has continued to make incremental progress on this issue this year, with several permitting reform measures included in the debt ceiling deal passed earlier this summer. These include amending the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act by streamlining reviews, establishing time limits and modernizing an outdated filing process.

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While these bipartisan reforms are certainly welcome and long overdue, they are just the first step in addressing the full scope of permitting reform needed to help advance Utah’s 21st-century infrastructure and energy solutions. Romney should continue to work with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass broader permitting reform that includes addressing judicial reviews that can stall projects for months or years at a time, reducing barriers that impede the construction of new energy transmission projects and building out essential pipeline infrastructure. These efforts will help boost clean energy development in Utah and throughout the country, growing our economy while also strengthening our energy independence.

The investments in modernizing Utah’s critical infrastructure — from our network of roads, bridges, and highways to our energy generation and transmission capabilities — are vital in creating jobs, strengthening and attracting businesses and industries and improving the quality of life in communities of all sizes throughout Utah. In order to ensure we do not squander the opportunities these investments offer, Congress must work to pass federal permitting reform.

Just as he did with the bipartisan infrastructure law, Romney should help lead on federal permitting reform in order to finish the job Congress started. The sooner Congress reforms this broken process, the faster Utah can begin to reap the benefits.

Jake Anderegg is the Utah state Republican senator representing District 22.