With bill’s release, Appalachian Voices reiterates opposition to dirty fossil fuel deal

September 21, 2022

Chelsea Barnes, Legislative Director, (614) 205-6424, chelsea@appvoices.org
Peter Anderson, Appalachian Voices Virginia Policy Director, (434) 249-6446, peter@appvoices.org,
Molly Moore, Dir. of Program Communications, (847) 401-3633, molly@appvoices.org

Today, Sen. Joe Manchin released the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, a bill that would attempt to force federal agencies to approve the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline. The bill would also circumvent much of the current regulatory process in order to try to speed development of this and other fossil fuel projects.

In a giant giveaway to fossil fuel interests, this legislation would also weaken National Environmental Policy Act review of energy projects and undermine states’ authority to protect their waters under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

These policies are incapable of passing on their own merits — which is why Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is attaching the bill to a must-pass continuing resolution to keep the government funded. Schumer made a side deal with Manchin to secure Manchin’s vote for the historic climate and clean energy investments in the Inflation Reduction Act, though the exact details of the promise to Manchin were kept hidden from other lawmakers and the public until just days before they are required to vote on it.

The new bill has only now been introduced with nine days until government funding runs out. This puts lawmakers in an impossible situation of choosing between shutting down the government or giving hand-outs to polluting industries, instead of allowing the bill to be considered on its own merits.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 303-mile project slated to cross West Virginia and Virginia, has had multiple environmental authorizations from Trump-era federal agencies vacated by the courts, showing the project’s serious shortcomings. The pipeline’s incomplete status does not justify an attempted end-run around the permitting process; rather, it provides further support for expanding — or at minimum maintaining — existing processes to collect public input and key data prior to licensing large, complex energy projects. Read our new report on the status and impact of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Statement from Appalachian Voices Executive Director Tom Cormons:
“This proposal undermines 50 years of bedrock environmental protections and the participation of directly impacted communities in these decisions,” said Appalachian Voices Executive Director Tom Cormons. “When members of Congress voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, they were not briefed on this permitting bill — it wasn’t even written yet. Congress should attempt to solve the actual problems with renewable energy deployment through an open legislative process, not this backroom deal that gives so much away to the fossil fuel industry and sells out the people directly impacted by Mountain Valley Pipeline. This bill is absolutely unacceptable and senators and representatives should reject it on principle.”