Since the Gulf oil spill nearly a year ago, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has issued just one deepwater drilling permit — but oil rig owners aren’t alone when it comes to permitting problems. Renewable, coal, natural gas, nuclear and transmission energy projects across the country also face delays and cancellations.
What’s worse: These stalled energy projects cost the American economy both GDP and jobs, according to an economic study released Thursday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The study, conducted by American Consumer Institute President Steve Pociask and Widener University economics professor Joseph Fuhr, identified 351 delayed or cancelled projects in 49 states — and found these projects alone could boost the economy by an estimated $1.1 trillion, as well as create 1.9 million new jobs.
Even if only a portion of the projects were allowed to go forward, they would still prove a significant boost to GDP. Say only the largest project in each state was constructed: They would grow the economy by $449 billion.
“These are very conservative estimates,” Pociask said at the release of the study. “There is no question that, if you look at the projects, they would represent a major stimulus to the economy — and, of course, these are shovel-ready jobs. Going back to the initial issue we have here of slow economic growth, creating well-paying jobs, increasing the tax base: This is something that will increase the tax base and it will also make energy more affordable for consumers and those are benefits that I didn’t consider. What this study really shows is that all of this can happen if just some portion of these projects could be built and operate.”
Of course, for that to happen, the government would have to roll back what the Chamber and study authors call “green tape.”
“We’re going to have to look at some ways of streamlining the permitting process or bringing in some certainty into the process, perhaps, or coming up with some realistic time periods to renew,” Pociask said. “Not all these projects should just be approved, but I think what we need to have is a fair review system. The current process is broken.”