Today, 72 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer opposing the inclusion of a permitting side deal in the upcoming continuing resolution or any must-pass legislation. A leaked draft of the permitting side deal, with an American Petroleum Institute watermark, included several provisions that would limit public input in large infrastructure projects, hamper environmental reviews, irreparably harm frontline communities who have endured the burden of pollution for decades, and curtail the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Following the release of the letter, Earthjustice Legislative Director of the Healthy Communities Program Raúl Garcia issued the following statement:
“The House Members who signed Rep. Grijalva’s letter are delivering a strong message to leadership: the health and voice of our communities are more important than any Washington insider deal. The permitting side deal is a trojan horse to harm our health and silence the voices of communities from having a say in the projects built in their neighborhoods. While it is imperative we quickly transition away from the fossil fuels that continue exacerbating the climate crisis, we must not do so on the backs of low-income communities and communities of color.
“We know that when done correctly, environmental reviews result in better, more resilient projects. Real permitting reform starts by fully funding the federal agencies tasked with environmental reviews and bringing communities into the project development process from the very beginning. We thank Rep. Grijalva and the other members of Congress for their leadership in opposing this back-room deal that will significantly harm overburdened communities across the country. We share their call to Speaker Pelosi and urge her not to include this side deal in any must-pass legislation.”