Senator Joe Manchin and others in government are using the current push for “permitting reform” as a full-scale political attack on bedrock environmental laws.
This article was originally posted on Common Dreams. Maury Johnson is a southern West Virginia landowner, whose organic farm has been impacted by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. He is a member of Preserve Monroe and the POWHR (Protect Our Water, Heritage, & Rights) Coalition both who have been fighting the MVP and other harmful projects across WV/VA&NC for 8 years.
Here we go again! Last year my Senator, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced his “Dirty Deal Bill” to placate his fossil fuel friends and funders. This bill would gut the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and silence most citizens who oppose any fossil fuel project, especially the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) that travels across my farm, near my home in southern West Virginia. His bill is also championed by some House Republicans who passed H.R. 1 at the end of March of this year.
Both of these bills are just shameless giveaways that contain blatant handouts and loopholes for the oil, gas, and mining industries. H.R.1 was fittingly renamed the Polluters Over People Act by those of us that believe we need to protect our environment. While oil companies’ record-breaking profits make it clear that they’re not an industry that needs any government assistance, Manchin, Republicans, and a few others like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and President Joe Biden continue to push legislation to gut our most fundamental environmental and public health laws, namely the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), legislation that will only lock us in to another generation of unnecessary fossil fuel dependency and line the pockets of industry CEOs.
Do not be fooled by industry talking points that use innocent sounding words like “streamlining,” “modernizing,” “energy independence,” or the latest popular catch phrase—“permitting reform.” This is just a ploy to pull the wool over the American people’s eyes and push through their climate disaster ideas with legislation like the “Dirty Deal” and the “Polluters Over People Act.”
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must rapidly transition to clean energy. Building that infrastructure quickly should be a priority, but not at the expense of already vulnerable communities.
Permitting reform may be needed, but not their brand of reform. What is needed is permitting reform like the recently introduced A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must rapidly transition to clean energy. Building that infrastructure quickly should be a priority, but not at the expense of already vulnerable communities. The A. Donald McEachin EJ Act would help make sure that this happens fairly for everyone concerned.
Unfortunately, Manchin and others in government are using the current push for “permitting reform” as a full-scale political attack on NEPA and other bedrock environmental laws. We have beaten back these attacks five times over the past several months, but it is now time to stop these attacks once and for all.
The Fossil Fuel industry and their friends in government will seize every possible opportunity to wage war on NEPA and other environmental and safety regulations. Their only concerns are their own profits, not the well-being of the impacted residents or communities. In fact, it does not appear that they care for much of anything except their bottom line. It is a fact that over the past 50 years Congress has passed these bedrock laws and policies with overwhelming bipartisan support, and now is not the time to roll them back. The American people demand a seat at the table in federal decision-making and should not be sacrificed for the profit of fossil fuel or other corporations.
Social justice is the act of giving each and everyone in a community equal opportunities and resources, scaling both the poor and the rich equally and bringing balance in almost every aspect of society. NEPA is currently the last line of defense that many social injustice communities have to protect themselves against life threatening pollution and other harms that many projects would subject them too.
If you agree with me and House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), who authored a new opinion piece for The Hill on NEPA and believe that our rights to protect ourselves from the greed and pollution of these uncaring corporations is an important issue, please let your senators and representatives in Congress know.
You can also join me in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission offices at 888 First Street NE in Washington D.C. on Thursday morning May 18 or on June 8 at the White House to let Biden and others know we don’t want the MVP or other unnecessary fossil fuel projects.