The bill also creates a rolling list of national priority projects eligible for expedited federal review, five of which, in the first seven years after the bill’s passage, must be fossil fuels or biofuels at any given time. . And it limits the amount of time available under the National Environmental Policy Act to fight new projects in general. NEPA has previously been used successfully to battle the Formosa Plastics plans in St. James, Louisiana, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, both intended to disproportionately affect black communities. These proposed NEPA changes mirror previous backed by the Trump administration.
Whichever version of allowing the reform to pass, it will need 60 votes. At least 10 of them must come from Republicans. It takes a certain level of willful ignorance to believe that Republican senators who receive regular donations from the fossil fuel industry could be duped into voting for a law that will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and benefit renewable energy in place of oil and gas. Whichever version of permitting reform can win a filibuster-proof majority in the current Congress (at a minimum) will contain a lot of bad stuff from an environmental and climate justice perspective that’s also good for the fossil fuel industry. . For now, though, it doesn’t look like Manchin has the votes: Republicans are angry that he voted for the Inflation Reduction Act and would rather this new bill had more freebies of fossil fuels.
Behind the current discussion about the bill’s merits lies a more troubling narrative about democracy. Two guys negotiated a deal behind closed doors. Both have generous donations accepted of the charismatic megaproject at its center, the Mountain Valley pipeline. The details of that deal were mostly worked out by four people, who released details of a sweeping overhaul of environmental regulations just a week before they intend to sign them into law. This sweeping overhaul of environmental regulations is likely to fail, at least for now, because one of the country’s two major parties does not believe the other should be allowed to govern. Climate advocates need to have a healthy debate about passing reform, as this is a deeply depressing stage.