Environmentalists convince senators to reject Joe Manchin’s dirty deal again

Sen Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

The U.S. Senate once again rejected Senator Joe Manchin’s dirty permitting legislation as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after Democratic leaders tried to insert the measure into the Pentagon spending bill.

Lawmakers refused to pass the amendment, effectively killing it after the fossil fuel-friendly senator from West Virginia attempted to attach to ‘must-pass’ legislation his proposal that would weaken environmental safeguards, expedite permits to construct pipelines and other dirty infrastructure, and restrict public input or legal challenges.

“Progressive lawmakers and hundreds of climate, public health, and youth groups opposed the move to pass such consequential changes without proper scrutiny,” said Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey environmentalist who ran for US Senate in 2018. “More than 750 frontline communities and environmental justice organizations signed a letter to legislative leaders opposing the deal.”

The New Jersey NAACP Health, Education, Energy & Pollution Committee, the Progressive Democrats of America New Jersey Chapter and the New Jersey Tenants Organization were among those groups, according to McCormick, who said: “Political success is defined by the people who show up.”

Manchin tried to latch his controversial set of deregulation and permitting changes to the NDAA, the annual military spending bill that will be voted on this week because the political establishment considers it necessary.

“The Manchin maneuver was supported by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who failed to get this so-called ‘dirty deal’ passed earlier this year,” said McCormick, who has been a vocal critic of the political establishment leadership among both parties.

His support for Joe Manchin’s dirty deal is one reason why President Joe Biden won’t have support from Lisa McCormick if he seeks renomination.

“His support for Senator Manchin’s permitting proposal is one more reason why I will be seeking an alternative to Biden in the presidential nominating process,” said McCormick, who has started a petition to draft environmental hero Steven Donziger as a 2024 candidate. https://www.democratsfor.us/draft_donziger

“The message could not be clearer. This is the third time Senator Manchin has failed to include his dirty permitting deal in must-pass legislation, and nothing has changed,” said Earthjustice President Abigail Dillen. “It is still highly unpopular, harms and silences the communities most impacted by fossil fuel development and pollution, and is a giveaway to the fossil fuel industry. It is the wrong blueprint to follow for mapping out our clean energy transition.”

“We stand with the communities that fought against this legislation, and we’ll stand with them to craft the solutions we need to ensure our transition to clean energy is grounded in justice and proceeds with the consultation of frontline communities,” said Dillen. “Numerous environmental organizations wrote to President Biden and offered an alternative framework for our clean energy transition that does not prolong the life of dirty fossil fuels like this dirty permitting deal”

“Manchin’s efforts to tie his dirty deal to any must-pass legislation he can get his hands on are undemocratic and potentially devastating for the planet,” said Ariel Moger, government and political affairs director at Friends of the Earth. “With momentum on the side of frontline communities, the fight will continue until the bill dies at the end of this Congress.”

“Senator Manchin cannot get away with last-ditch efforts to push forward his fossil fuel fast-tracking bill,” said Jeff Ordower, of 350.org. “The industry will keep trying these secretive, last-minute efforts to push forward dirty deals, so we will continue to be alert and we won’t let up the fight.”

Manchin, who receives more campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry than any other lawmaker, warned of dire consequences for America’s energy security. He said: “The American people will pay the steepest price for Washington once again failing to put common sense policy ahead of toxic tribal politics. This is why the American people hate politics in Washington.”

Manchin’s side deal, officially called the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), was supposed to be the price Democratic leadership paid for the pro-coal Senator’s support for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the nation’s largest investment in climate spending to date.

In exchange for his vote to pass Biden’s IRA, Manchin, who receives more money from fossil fuel and pipeline companies than any other U.S. lawmaker, wanted a vote on permitting changes.

Manchin wants to limit the environmental review process for energy projects to two years, coordinate the review process under one agency and take steps to avoid delays.

He would also mandate that agencies do everything necessary to permit the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a controversial fracked natural gas pipeline through Virginia and West Virginia that has faced local opposition and legal setbacks. 

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