72 House Democrats Urge Pelosi to Keep Energy Permitting Changes Out of Government Funding
Dozens of Democrats in the House of Representatives are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) not to include changes to the U.S. energy permitting process in the government funding measure, despite promises to reform the system being key to convincing Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to vote for the recently-signed Inflation Reduction Act.
“We urge you to ensure that these provisions are kept out of a continuing resolution or any other must-pass legislation this year,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, and 71 other Democrats wrote to Pelosi on Sept. 10.
They referenced a leaked draft of the permitting measure that would streamline the permitting process for oil and other energy projects and may be linked to the continuing resolution, which contains funding for the government to avoid a shutdown.
“The proposed legislation would restrict public access to the courts to seek remedies against illegal project development; place arbitrary limits on the amount of time the public is given to comment on polluting projects; and curtail public input, environmental review, and government accountability,” the Democrats said.
Pelosi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
In order to get Manchin’s support for the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrat leaders—President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—promised reforms to the permitting process.
“President Biden, Leader Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi have committed to advancing a suite of commonsense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built to deliver energy safely around the country and to our allies,” Manchin said in a statement announcing he would vote for the act.
Democrats have a majority in the 50–50 Senate by virtue of their control of the White House. That means any Democrat defection imperils a bill, even if it is able to be rammed through under budget reconciliation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of the nominal Independents who regularly votes with Democrats, said Thursday that the agreement reached between Manchin and Democrat leaders was a “disastrous side deal.”
“We know that if we don’t rapidly transform our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and renewable energy, the situation will only become much worse and our planet will face irreparable and irreversible harm. That’s the simple reality,” Sanders said on the Senate floor in Washington. “And yet, given all that we know, given all that the scientists are telling us, what is the United States Congress about to do? Well … the United States Congress is seriously considering legislation to provide a huge giveaway to the fossil fuel industry, to drill, produce, and sell more oil and gas.”
Schumer recently said that he planned to include the permitting deal with the government funding.
Sanders told reporters he would vote against the resolution if permitting was attached.
Manchin has warned Democrats not to betray him on the deal.
No Republicans have appeared to voice support for the combined measure, even though they’ve backed permitting reform for years, because of how it’s connected to the Inflation Reduction Act.