Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) introduced legislation to streamline federal requirements to build meteorological towers used to collect data that helps scientists approve or deny wind energy projects.
The Reducing Regulatory Obstacles to Wind Energy Production Act, H.R. 1375 would streamline the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements on those meteorological towers used to collect the necessary data that help scientists accurately estimate local wind energy resources before going forward with onshore wind energy projects. Currently it can take up to two years to navigate the NEPA process to obtain a permit to build a meteorological tower. H.R. 1375 would reduce this time frame down to 30 days.
Under current regulations, before constructing a wind farm, wind data must be analyzed to tell scientists if the site is an appropriate one for future development of wind energy technology. Without this data, it is also nearly impossible to secure financing for a proposed project.
Mullin noted the clear breakdown between the way government operates and the private sector.
"Obviously the private sector is not going to build a wind farm at a location where there are no hopes of harnessing wind energy," Mullin said. "Prior to building a wind farm, the private sector will have done their research to determine site feasibility and profitability. Unlike the federal government, the private sector doesn't keep pouring money into unfeasible or unproductive ventures."
NEPA requires the federal government to use "all practicable means to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony," according to the website of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Council on Environmental Quality oversees NEPA.
"I have heard from many in the private sector who believe a streamlined NEPA process and the certainty of a shorter timeline for when permits are to be issued would encourage economic job growth in both our state and nation."
"At a time when our nation is looking to increase production of alternative energy sources, this bill makes practical sense. In Oklahoma we are ready and willing to lead the nation in the "all of the above' energy production plan, but we need government to help, not hinder the process."