In exchange for his vote to help pass the Inflation Reduction Act last month, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has demanded a vote on a second bill that would fast-track fossil fuel projects and undercut basic environmental protections. Manchin, the single largest recipient of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, is seeking to ram through new legislation that would hollow out federal environmental review and permitting processes. This dirty deal would gut the bedrock protections in the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act by streamlining approval of dangerous fossil fuel projects, and putting communities, wildlife, and public lands and waters at risk.
The dirty deal, a leaked version of which appears to have been drafted by the American Petroleum Institute, would rubber stamp fossil fuel projects, while silencing the voices of the communities facing the compounding threats of pollution and climate change. It is a blatant giveaway to the oil and gas industry, and it must not pass.
The dirty deal is a blatant giveaway to the very same fossil fuel industry that is poisoning our communities and accelerating the climate crisis. Specifically, this bill would:
- limit public participation and entrench environmental racism into decision-making by sidelining the voices of impacted communities
- hollow out environmental protections by undermining the review process laid out under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA)
- truncate public comment and Tribal consultations
- greenlight harmful fossil fuel projects for construction that have been rejected as unlawful by federal courts
Now is not the time for our government to incentivize fossil fuel companies to build more infrastructure, such as pipelines and export terminals, that would only further lock us into a dangerous energy system for decades to come. In the words of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.” Instead, we must immediately transition to clean and renewable energy if we are to meet the aggressive emission targets needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Prolonging that transition ignores climate science. It also perpetuates environmental racism by keeping the communities that suffer the greatest injuries from these projects from having a fair say about those impacts. The dirty deal’s strict timelines for NEPA review will prevent robust and effective environmental justice analysis, and will further undermine the ability of frontline communities to protect themselves and their communities from sickness and death.
As the U.S. embarks on the most active period of building infrastructure since the New Deal, we must have planning and review requirements that drive a truly equitable build-out and actually achieve imperative health, climate, and ecological outcomes for all communities.
It has also been reported that Congressional leaders intend to tether the dirty deal bill to a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government, which must be passed by September 30 to avoid a government shutdown. Holding the funding of the entire federal government hostage to satiate one Senator’s self-interest in fossil fuels would be reprehensible. If there must be a vote on this dirty deal bill, it should be as a standalone bill, and not tied to “must pass” legislation.
Your support can help stop this dangerous proposal from becoming a catastrophic reality. Our communities and collective future are at stake. Contact your Members of Congress today and tell them to reject this dirty deal.