Chamber Directs Attention to Energy Project Obstacles

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on April 16 highlighted a new effort to expose the number of U.S. energy projects that have been delayed or stopped due to permitting and siting hurdles, opposition by local and professional activist groups, and other "green" tape.

The chamber's Project No Project effort features a Web site that details a state-by-state analysis of key energy infrastructure projects that are being thwarted when the U.S. economy needs them most.

 "We must acknowledge and remove the barriers standing in the way of these green projects," said William Kovacs, the chamber's vice president of Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs. "We cannot mandate excessive reductions in greenhouse gases, fuel our future, and apply green technologies if we don't address the green tape, excessive permitting requirements, and activist opposition."

 Project No Project's Web site tells the story of new energy projects that are being held up — and the resulting negative impact on jobs, infrastructure, and economic growth. To generate awareness of the Project No Project effort with government leaders, the chamber will run paid advertisements inside the capital Beltway, promote the site through social networking, and will tap its vast grassroots network to urge action.

"By far the largest hurdle to developing energy in this country—of any kind—is the ludicrous amount of time it takes to obtain permits and related approvals for a new project," Kovacs said. "When you factor in NIMBYs, the problem becomes insurmountable. Lawsuits drag on, zoning laws are changed, financing dries up, and ultimately projects stop. All of this is killing jobs and threatening our economic recovery."

Project No Project highlights Cape Wind, the nation's first proposed offshore wind farm planned for Nantucket Sound, Mass., as one project that can't get off the ground because of opposition by activist groups. At peak generation, Cape Wind would generate 420 megawatts of renewable electricity—enough to meet the needs of 420,000 homes. Other examples include a biomass power plant in Tallahassee, Fla., that would create 200 local construction jobs and a waste-to-ethanol plant in San Pierre, Ind. that has the potential to produce 27 million gallons of ethanol per year.