Press Release

Appalachian Voices opposes permitting reform proposal by Sen. Manchin and Democratic leadership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2022

CONTACT
Dan Radmacher, (540) 798-6683), dan@appvoices.org

BOONE, N.C. — Based on details released yesterday, a proposed permitting reform bill would severely weaken the governmental safeguards in place to prevent community and environmental harm from many types of projects. Appalachian Voices believes that this would be an unacceptable sacrifice of the communities and environment of our region.

The summary document released by Manchin’s office would introduce a wide range of changes to the time tables of the decisions made by regulatory agencies reviewing energy projects under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act and other authorities. Also included in the list of broad changes is congressional approval for the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which Appalachian Voices, several other organizations and many impacted residents have opposed for more than eight years.

Specifically, these changes include, among other revisions:

  • Reinstating limitations on state authority under the Clean Water Act that were made during the Trump administration
  • Requiring federal agencies to concurrently review the different authorizations and permits for a project, and limiting NEPA review to two years for major projects and one year for smaller projects
  • Creating loopholes for certain projects to avoid NEPA review altogether
  • Establishing an avenue for the Secretary of Energy to make a determination whether an energy project is in the national interest, as opposed to the Secretary of State.

These measures would put a great deal of strain on federal agencies and courts, and possibly force these institutions to take information presented by the companies requesting permits at face value instead of having the ability to do their own due diligence.

“If even half of the measures outlined in Manchin’s proposal are passed, it would constitute a major overhaul of fossil fuel infrastructure permitting,” said Ridge Graham, North Carolina field coordinator. “By itself, any legislation that requires the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is unacceptable. When combined with multiple, sweeping changes that fast-track any number of unnecessary projects, gut critical environmental protections and hamstring the authority of multiple federal agencies, such a permitting reform bill would be a disaster for clean air, clean water and frontline communities.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is reported to have agreed to advance Manchin’s bill proposal in exchange for his vote in support of the Inflation Reduction Act, which among many climate provisions includes the permanent extension of the black lung excise tax, a critical resource for miners and their families who suffer from the disease.

“Residents of every Appalachian and environmental justice community deserve to benefit from ambitious and transformative climate policy, and we firmly oppose any approach by Congress that sacrifices frontline communities as part of a political bargain,” said Jessica Sims, Virginia field coordinator.

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Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future. For more information, visit: appvoices.org

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