WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks Thursday on the Senate floor regarding permitting reform:
"In the teeth of the Great Depression, America built the tallest structure in the world – the Empire State Building – in thirteen and a half months.
"Today, major infrastructure projects wait an average of four and a half years just for an Environmental Impact Statement before breaking ground.
"Beginning in the middle of the Civil War, the transcontinental railroad took five years and seven months to build, from first rail to golden spike.
"Today, it can take roughly twice that long just to get the permit to open a mine.
"The American people have heard a lot of talk from Washington about permitting reform. But our nation's builders, refiners, miners and job creators know what they need is a lot less Washington in the way.
"America is facing down strategic competition with major rivals like China that will shape the next century of world history. We're in a race for security, prosperity, and influence.
"But even as Washington Democrats say they want to help America build things, make things, upgrade our infrastructure, and win that competition, they keep making it harder to do exactly that.
"After the bipartisan infrastructure bill became law in 2021, the Biden Administration had unelected bureaucrats at the Federal Highway Administration urging states not to spend infrastructure funding on commonsense things like expanding highway capacity, and focus on 'equity' and 'sustainability' sideshows instead.
"After the CHIPS Act passed in 2022, the Administration's Commerce Department tried to rewrite parts of the law after the fact to maximize the benefits for Democrats' Big Labor allies.
"Secretary Raimondo marketed the bill as an urgent national security priority, securing the supply chain for microchips; but the left wants to turn it into a Trojan horse for miscellaneous left-wing demands relating to workplace H.R.
"By one measure, last year, the number of natural gas pipeline projects that were cancelled dwarfed the number that were completed. On the Biden Administration's watch, we are canceling more gas pipelines than we're building.
"And last April, the Council on Environmental Quality issued a rule that would open new infrastructure projects to even more frivolous litigation from radical activists by redefining whole categories of potential environmental effects.
"Mr. President, this week the Democratic Leader announced that he wants the Senate to pass even more legislation relating to competition with China.
"But our Democratic colleagues give the game away when they continually obstruct real, honest-to-goodness, commonsense reforms to our permitting process.
"We cannot and will not out-compete China by rewarding radical activists' bad behavior. We will outcompete China if and when we decide we are going to help builders build.
"Our colleagues Ranking Member Capito of the EPW Committee and Ranking Member Barrasso of the ENR Committee are the experts in this space.
"Consider the case our friend from West Virginia recalled just yesterday on the floor: The Mountain Valley Pipeline was designed to help heat 10 million homes across Appalachia, and it was supposed to be completed five years ago. Construction is more than 90% done.
"But thanks to predatory legal challenges, the builders have now literally spent more time in court than on the job site! And a project that was supposed to cost $3.5 billion now has a price tag almost twice that size, thanks to legal delays and fees.
"It's mind-boggling to think that in the world's most advanced economy, we simply let our critical infrastructure crumble, our skilled workers stay home, and our brightest ideas languish until radical environmentalists run out of legal challenges and unelected Washington bureaucrats decide they're satisfied.
"Thankfully, our colleagues from West Virginia and Wyoming are teaming up to introduce two bills that deliver real permitting reform.
"The Capito and Barrasso bills are designed to create a streamlined fast track for energy and infrastructure projects, set enforceable limits on bureaucratic reviews and legal challenges, and give builders certainty that changing political winds won't hamstring their projects.
"Unleashing American energy, harnessing American resources, and investing in the American workforce.
"These are crucial priorities.
"And led by Senators Capito and Barrasso, Senate Republicans are on the case."