December 7, 2022
Washington D.C. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act annual defense policy bill, finalized on December 6, excludes changes to the federal permitting process for energy projects that Sen. Joe Manchin fought to include that would have benefited fossil fuel corporations.
Sen. Manchin was unable to insert language into the bill to streamline the federal environmental review process for fossil fuel and renewable energy projects. Sen. Manchin, who heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has wanted to speed up the process for energy projects, which includes a proposed natural gas pipeline in his state.
“Failing to pass bipartisan energy permitting reform that both Republicans and Democrats have called for will have long-term consequences for our energy independence,” said Sen. Manchin once his measure failed.
“Sen. Manchin’s false idea of energy independence would make the U.S. more energy insecure by keeping us dependent on fossil fuels that autocratic leaders use to control their populations and wage war. The only way to stop the stranglehold of OPEC dictating fossil fuel costs and adding to inflation is to become energy independent with clean energy,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state Representative, Marine combat veteran, President of Elected Officials to Protect America and Co-Founder.
The dirty permitting rider was originally proposed to be included in the must-pass Continuing Resolution in September but was rejected after widespread public backlash. The dirty permitting rider would have restricted public access to the courts to seek remedies against illegal project development; placed arbitrary limits on the amount of time the public has to comment on polluting projects; curtailed public input, environmental review, and government accountability; fast-tracked a certain number of harmful fossil fuel projects, including the dangerous Mountain Valley Pipeline; undermined the Clean Water Act; and more.
“Thanks to the hard-fought persistence and vocal opposition of environmental justice communities all across the country, the Dirty Deal has finally been laid to rest,” said Natural Resources Chair Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz. In a statement) “House Democrats can now close out the year having made historic progress on climate change without this ugly asterisk. Of course, we still have much more work to do to bring justice to those communities who are continuing to bear the brunt of climate change, but I’m at least glad we’re not taking a step backwards today.”
Republicans, progressive Democrats, and environmental groups stood against Manchin’s permitting language to the NDAA.
“Elected Officials to Protect America proudly signed a letter with more than 750 frontline communities and environmental justice groups and allied organizations to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer voicing our opposition to Sen. Manchin’s permitting rider on December 5, 2022.” said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) “Manchin’s Dirty Deal would have prevented meaningful public input from communities in the crosshairs of harmful fossil fuel projects and escalated the climate crisis. EOPA would like to see responsible permitting reform for clean energy technologies to ensure we meet the timeframe the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has laid out to mitigate the climate emergency.”
Permitting reform for clean energy technologies would also ensure the federal government’s climate goals are met. That’s why Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and others, are open to changes that would help transmission and renewable energy projects get up and running faster. Elected Officials to Protect America looks forward to responsible legislation that would meet this goal.
Hundreds of groups and individuals also sent letters opposing the permitting rider, including the following:
Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.