Manchin Asks to Withdraw Radical Pipeline Measure
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a stunning last-minute reversal in the lead up to a vote on a federal government spending measure, Senator Joe Manchin has requested the withdrawal of his controversial proposed text that would have rubber stamped the Mountain Valley Pipeline and weakened the law on permitting fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
John Bowman, managing director of government affairs at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), made the following statement:
“Polluters have been working hard to silence low-income communities and communities of color, and they’re failing.
“They’re failing because the community fighting for environmental justice came together to squarely reject this gift to oil and gas companies.
“This permitting measure was an effort to throw out half a century of law that ensures fair environmental review and public input. These longstanding protections give people a voice at the table when proposed oil and gas projects threaten to harm neighborhoods, pollute air and water, endanger wildlife and accelerate the climate crisis.
“We will keep standing with communities who oppose the illegal and unnecessary Mountain Valley Pipeline, and other harmful fossil fuel infrastructure. And we’ll keep pressing Congress to pass forward-looking bills like the Environmental Justice for All Act (EJAA), that center communities and advance justice.”
The permitting measure the Senate rejected would have, in effect, revived the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a gas project in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, that was illegally approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management under the Trump administration. Those approvals were overturned in federal court and construction is now halted, but the provision would have required the Biden administration to quickly re-issue the four permits and would interfere with any review of such decisions by a federal court.
The rejected measure also would have let dirty energy projects short-circuit safeguards and would have radically reduced the timeframe for seeking federal court review when agencies approve energy projects, in addition to marginalizing communities. It would have fundamentally changed existing law and would have severely curtailed the rights of citizens to challenge fossil fuel projects in court (and would have applied to a wide range of projects from fossil fuel production, generation and storage to transport projects involving oil and gas, carbon dioxide or minerals.)
Traditionally, a party has time to challenge an energy project for violating the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. This language would have barred any challenges to an energy project – environmental, health, tribal, labor or ratepayer – unless made within 5 months of agency approval, dramatically limiting the public’s ability to have a say.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.