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Opinion | Federal permitting reform needed to spur economic growth in Alabama

Overbearing government regulations are holding back Alabama businesses and economic development efforts throughout the state.


Overbearing government regulations are holding back Alabama businesses and economic development efforts throughout the state. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to the broken, dysfunctional federal permitting process. As former mayor of Tuscumbia and now a legislator working in the Alabama House of Representatives, I have witnessed firsthand the negative impact this bureaucratic process can have on major infrastructure and energy projects in our state.

Particularly when multiple jurisdictions are involved, the overlapping requirements of local, state, and federal siting, review, and permitting processes can create significant delays for projects that would otherwise help create jobs and spur economic growth in Alabama communities. Not only do these delays prevent shovel-ready projects from moving forward, but they can also exponentially increase costs while decreasing financial viability. All this serves to do is create new risks for potential project partners, undermining any incentive to invest.

The bureaucratic delays created by our inefficient permitting process prevent much-needed investments in our infrastructure from moving forward in a timely manner. That, in turn, holds back Alabama’s economy from growing to its full potential. Ultimately, these obstacles delay the economic and societal benefits of infrastructure projects from reaching Alabama communities. With a simpler, more streamlined and coordinated federal permitting process, Alabama could create more jobs, bring economy-building projects to life sooner, and improve communities across the state.

To help build a stronger economy here in Alabama and across the country, we need a more efficient federal permitting process that enables major energy and infrastructure projects to move forward in a timelier manner.  Alabama’s congressional delegation does a great job representing us in Washington and I encourage them to continue working hard to push for meaningful, commonsense permitting reform that will help grow our entire economy.

Kerry Underwood serves as State Representative in the Alabama Legislature.

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