Today in anticipation of a procedural vote on the continuing resolution that includes Senator Joe Manchin’s Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, 147 groups sent a letter to all U.S. Senators urging them to vote ‘no’ on any attempt to attach the bill to any must-pass legislation.
“This legislation is designed to exclude frontline communities from the permitting process and greenlight industry permits at their expense,” the groups wrote. “In practice, this legislation will function as an outright attack on the inherent sovereignty and jurisdictional authority of Tribal nations to protect its territories, lands, water, air, natural and cultural resources, and the health and wellbeing of its peoples. Specifically, the legislation would undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other permitting laws and review processes that are needed to assess all environmental and cultural impacts of federal decisions. This legislation also preferences industry preferred outcomes and pressures agencies to quickly evaluate and approve major infrastructure projects with incomplete information about their projects’ environmental harms. Furthermore, it allows pipeline and other fossil fuel project sponsors to veto extensions of comment periods further limiting public input. It tips the judicial scales in industry’s favor by reducing the statute of limitations for federal actions from six years to five months and sets a dangerous precedent in altering which judges or panels of judges are assigned cases and appeals.”
The groups also highlighted the highly secretive nature of the bill’s legislative process and the failure of the bill to account for the voices of frontline communities.
“It was first released to the public and to many Members of Congress less than a week ago and its proponents seek to have it become law within the week,” the groups continued. “The bill was crafted without consultation with all of the relevant committees of jurisdiction, without transparency, or the opportunity for debate. It is rushed and its process excludes the voices of the very communities that it will harm the most.”
The groups finally called for Congress to focus on solutions to improve community engagement with impacted communities like passing the Environmental Justice for All Act.
“Instead of cutting out communities, Congress should be advancing efforts that ensure fulsome public engagement early in project development and strengthen the requirements for agencies to evaluate cumulative health and climate impacts as is done in the community-led Environmental Justice for All Act,” the groups wrote.
Read the letter.