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Opinion
The Editors

Why Is It So Hard to Build in America? Blame Red Tape

Joe Biden’s ambitious green-energy agenda won’t go anywhere without permitting reform.

More please.

More please.

Photographer: Ryan McFadden/MediaNews Group

President Joe Biden says the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains some $370 billion in climate spending, represents the most sweeping government investment in clean energy “ever, ever, ever.” To ensure that investment is worthwhile, he’ll need an equally unprecedented overhaul of federal rules and regulations. Congress should make such reforms a top priority.

Building anything in the US requires navigating a rainforest of red tape. A primary impediment is the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federally funded projects to undergo a laborious environmental-review process. Mandated impact studies can run for hundreds of pages, cost millions of dollars and take years to complete. Faced with such costly busywork, many projects don’t get off the ground at all. Others endure seemingly endless legal challenges.