Today, Earthjustice joined over 100 environmental justice and allied organizations in a letter to the White House expressing deep concern over the Biden administration’s support of Senator Joe Manchin’s permitting reform bill. The White House recently indicated its support for including the bill in must-pass legislation like the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The permitting deal was pulled from September’s continuing resolution and includes various provisions that would greenlight harmful fossil fuel projects, silence environmental justice communities, and limit judicial review.
“We recognize the critical work that your administration has done to embed environmental justice in the operation of the Federal government,” the groups wrote. “However, you must stand by these commitments to environmental justice communities by listening to our concerns. Senator Manchin’s legislation is a harbinger for the permanent silencing of environmental justice communities in the permitting process, while also eviscerating the rights to due process in a court of law should they deem it necessary to protect their communities from harm.”
“Nothing has changed since September, and Senator Manchin’s bill contains the same harmful giveaways to the fossil fuel industry and problematic public engagement provisions,” said Earthjustice Legislative Director for the Healthy Communities Program Raúl Garcia. “Real permitting reform begins with including communities from the start and increasing opportunities for public engagement, resulting in better, more resilient projects. The Biden administration has the opportunity to set a gold standard for ensuring that our clean energy transition is grounded in equity and justice, and this bill would undo the progress the administration has already made on environmental justice. We can’t afford to squander this opportunity.”
The groups urged the Biden administration to not support permitting reform that harms communities and cuts public engagement. The groups instead argued for the administration to support the Environmental Justice for All Act.
“The Environmental Justice for All Act is a comprehensive bill to reduce environmental inequities that includes provisions to protect and strengthen public participation and tribal consultation,” the groups wrote. “The Environmental Justice for All Act also includes provisions to ensure the consideration of cumulative impacts in the permitting process as well as consideration of alternatives. In a recent poll conducted by Data for Progress and WE ACT 4 Change, they found 89% of Democrat voters surveyed support the Environmental Justice for All Act.”
Read the letter.