Business group says delays are costing thousands of jobs, billions in lost economic benefits
The US Chamber of Commerce says it’s taking too long to green-light energy projects — not just in California but across the US — and that it’s putting a drag on economic recovery.
The pro-business group issued a report that attempts to quantify the opportunity cost of projects that were in permitting or litigation limbo during March of 2010. That “snapshot” includes 31 projects in California.
Authors of the report, entitled “Progress Denied,” say that using standard multipliers from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, the California projects alone could generate more than 142,000 jobs and yield a total benefit of $59.1 billion to the state’s total economy.
“We just have to get on with these kinds of things,” said Peter Morici, former chief economist at the US International Trade Commission and designated peer reviewer of the report. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.” Morici told reporters in a conference call that the large number of renewable energy projects on the list “Does indicate that you really can’t get involved in anything that the NIMBY movement, the no-growth movement, the zero-growth movement doesn’t get on your back.”
Steve Pociask of TeleNomic Research, who co-authored the report, said that nationwide, 45% of the projects on the limbo list were renewables.
Here’s the breakdown for California:
Projects awaiting groundbreaking: 31
Renewable Energy: 19, which includes:
Solar: 7 (including one hybrid gas-solar project)
Renewable Fuels: 2
The list also includes five transmission projects, including the controversial Sunrise Powerlink in Southern California, and more than a half-dozen natural gas generating plants that are also in the permitting process. Although the Sunrise corridor has been approved, William Kovacs, who heads Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs for the Chamber, says “The permit has an enormous number of conditions and is still under litigation.” Kovacs said they counted any project that “was subject to a challenge.”
Just two days prior to release of the Chamber report, the federal Bureau of Land Management issued a list of nineteen “priority” renewable energy projects, eleven of which are in California, on federal lands managed by BLM. The list includes solar, wind and geothermal projects for generating electricity. To be eligible for the list, projects had to “minimize” environmental impacts and far enough along to “potentially” break ground by the end of this year.