- by theguardian
- 07 Oct 2022
Scientists, health experts and environmental groups have condemned new legislation negotiated in secret by the fossil-fuel-friendly Democratic senator Joe Manchin and the Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, which will fast-track major energy projects by gutting clean water and environmental protections.
The permitting bill published on Wednesday was the result of a deal between Manchin and Democratic leaders, which secured the West Virginia senator's vote for Joe Biden's historic climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, which Manchin held up for months.
The bill mandates all permits for the Mountain Valley pipeline (MVP), a project long delayed by environmental violations and judicial rulings, be issued within 30 days of passage and strips away virtually any scope for judicial review.
Democratic leaders want to push through Manchin's bill without debate or analysis, and are expected to attach the legislation to a funding measure Congress must pass before 1 October.
Energy industry associations have widely welcomed the reforms but opposition from Democrats and Republicans could scupper the deal.
Critics say the bill is a giveaway to the fossil fuel lobby, paving the way for oil and gas production that will stop the US meeting its obligations to cut greenhouse gases and lead to further environmental injustices for people of color, Indigenous communities and low-income areas. It slashes judicial and state powers and oversight, handing Washington greater control over major projects.
"This is not permitting reform," said the Greenpeace USA co-executive director Ebony Twilley Martin. "This is permitting a giveaway that benefits those who continue to line their pockets at the expense of those affected by climate disasters. Our country cannot afford any new oil, gas or coal projects if we're going to avoid climate catastrophe."