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  • Nicolas Robichaux

Status of Senator Manchin's permit plan bill

In 2022, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Energy on the Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022.

Manchin introduced the act after the successful passing of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, receiving backing and allegiance from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and President Biden (D).

Democrats’ initial attempt to get the act made into law was to incorporate it into the Stopgap bill, which would keep the United States government funded. This angered Republicans, who threatened to use a filibuster to stop the amendment. Because some Progressive Senators did not want the act to pass (as it would allow for pipelines to be constructed and rushed through the judicial branch), a few collectively wrote a letter requesting that the act be removed from the bill.

In the letter, Bernie Sanders (I-VA) expressed, “At a time when climate change is already causing devastating harm to people in the United States and throughout the world, the last thing Congress should do is pass the disastrous side deal recently introduced by Sen. Manchin to make it easier for the fossil fuel industry to destroy the planet and pollute the environment."

Alternatively, leading democrats believed that the act should have a separate debate and vote to ensure that the bill will pass to avoid the government shutting down. The legislation would now be postponed and incorporated into the Continuing Resolution instead. The premise of the bill would allow federal reform of energy, mineral, and fossil production from the United States of America due to the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act which would impact federal projects. Additionally, the act would fasten the federal review agency method and process of national projects pertaining to natural resources and transportation. It would also conduct a two-year deadline for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze national projects pertaining to sources of energy. The President would be granted the ability to construct a hierarchy of importance in reference to which projects need to be completed.

Manchin spoke on the Senate Floor to advocate for the act and its passing during a continuing resolution, which is necessary for governmental funding. Manchin expressed the importance of reducing the prices of national projects and their time frame of construction; this will positively impact the overall lives of the average American individual by decreasing the amount of government funding spent.

Senator Manchin states “We've got a good piece of legislation that is extremely balanced. And I think it'll prove itself in time. The bottom line is how much suffering and how much pain do you want to inflict on the American people for the time being? I can assure you, the longer the time goes on, the more the price goes up. That 's what we're facing in America today with energy.”

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 remained opposed by Republican senators. Many Republicans were concerned the policy would grant too much influence and power to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The FERC would be able to delegate who pays for the project and how long the project has until it must be completed. Republican senators also did not believe the act would speed up the development of projects.

Organizations combating climate change opposed Senator Manchin’s policy because of the harmful impact that would be endured by communities who do not have a direct voice in the debate. Over one hundred organizations wrote to the White House opposing the Act and stating it would counteract climate activists’ objectives.

Earthjustice and other organizations stated, “Senator Manchin’s legislation is a harbinger for the permanent silencing of environmental justice communities in the permitting process, while also eviscerating the rights to due process in a court of law should they deem it necessary to protect their communities from harm”

Subsequently, progressive senators rejected the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 for a similar rationale to Earthjustice but differed from the Republican senators, who believed that the legislation would permit the growth of climate change by prioritizing the fossil fuel industry with a reduction in environmental reviews and objected to the approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project.

The bipartisan lack of support from progressive Democrats and opposition by Republicans resulted in Senator Manchin’s Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 being pulled from being incorporated into the Continuing Resolution. Senator Manchin has not indicated any future proposal for the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, as it would require compromising with Republican Senators.

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