Manchin Permits Bill Creates Dramatic Conflict Over Government Funding


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Manchin Permit Proposal Creates Dramatic Conflict Over Government Funding Bill

Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) on Wednesday unveiled the long-awaited text of legislation aimed at speeding up the country’s permitting process for energy infrastructure, including polluting fossil fuel projects and clean energy projects crucial to President Bidenclimate goals.

But the bill, dubbed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022faces fierce opposition from Republicans and a growing group of Democrats in both houses of Congress.

Growing opposition threatens to undermine an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Biden to pass the proposed authorization under a government funding bill – an unusual compromise that secured Manchin’s elusive support for the Inflation Reduction Act.

The details: The 91-page bill would take the following steps to streamline the federal agency approval process for new energy projects, according to a summary from Manchin’s office:

  • Set a two-year deadline for reviewing major projects under the National Environmental Policy Act.
  • Establish a 150-day statute of limitations for lawsuits over projects.
  • Create a rolling list of 25 projects that are in the “national interest,” including five fossil fuel projects.

More controversial, the measure aims to accelerate the Mountain Valley Pipelinewhich would transport natural gas approximately 300 miles from West Virginia to Virginia and is a key priority for Manchin.

  • The bill directs the agencies to “take all necessary steps” to issue new permits for the pipeline, which has been delayed by legal setbacks.
  • The measure also requires that all future disputes regarding the pipeline be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuitrather than the 4th circuitwho previously ruled that the agencies failed to consider erosion, construction runoff or the impact on endangered fish species when approving permits for the project.

Senator Tim Kaine (Virginia) on Wednesday became the latest Democrat to oppose permitting legislation, citing provisions that would help more than 100 miles of the Mountain Valley pipeline run through his home state.

“I was not consulted on this subject. I will do everything I can to oppose it,” Kaine told reporters Wednesday night.

“Allowing a disgruntled society to lose a case to deprive the entire court of jurisdiction that dealt with the case? Unprecedented,” he added. “It would open the door to massive abuse and corruption.”

Still, Kaine did not say he would vote against the interim funding bill, which would increase the risks of a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Earlier Wednesday, news broke that Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) was organizing a letter from a handful of Liberal senators calling for a standalone vote on the enabling bill. This would allow critics of the authorization proposal to vote against without voting for the government shutdown.

  • The letter received support from Meaning Cory Booker (DN.J.), Tammy Duckworth (Dill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
  • Politico first reported on the letter. A Merkley spokeswoman confirmed the accuracy of this report.
  • Directed by House Committee on Natural Resources Chair Raul M. Grijalva (D-Arizona), liberal House lawmakers made a similar request.

Sanders previously spoke out against the permit bill, calling it “a huge giveaway for the fossil fuel industry.” But Warren had maintained that she would withhold judgment until she saw the final text of the measure.

After viewing the text, Warren told reporters on Wednesday, “If Congress is considering making any significant changes to the clearances, we should be able to vote for or against.”

Republican mockery, cheers from climate hawks

Meanwhile, 47 of 50 Senate Republicans have rallied behind a rival proposal for a license to Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.) that would boost fossil fuel projects and codify some of the former president donald trumpchanges to the environmental permitting process.

“If our colleague across the way wants real licensing reform, Senator Capito’s fantastic bill only needs Senator Manchin and nine other Democrats to clean up this chamber,” the Minority Leader told the Senate. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday in the Senate. “Otherwise, it looks like the senior senator from West Virginia traded his vote for a massive liberal boondoggle for nothing.”

Still, some climate hawks insisted that the Manchin bill would speed up the transmission lines needed to carry clean energy across the country.

“If we don’t get good transmission, we won’t meet our clean energy goals,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), one of the most vocal climate advocates in the Senate.

“The whole strategy here is to electrify everything and create a national grid,” he said, “and that’s part of the authorization for reform.”

Senate ratifies treaty amendment limiting super climate pollutants

The Senate voted 69 to 27 on Wednesday to ratify the Kigali Amendment to 1987 Montreal Protocolwhich requires countries to sharply limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs – the planet-warming gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration and which are hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in accelerating change climate, Steven Mufson reports for the Washington Post.

US climate envoy John F. Kerrywho was in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, when the amendment was first negotiated in 2016, said the Senate vote “was in the works for a decade and a profound victory for the climate and the American economy. “.

In a statement, Kerry said “companies have backed him because he boosts US exports; climate advocates have championed it because it will prevent up to half a degree of global warming by the end of the century; and world leaders have backed it because it guarantees strong international cooperation.

The treaty, which was expected to win approval by at least two-thirds of the Senate, has garnered broad bipartisan support for its potential to boost US competitiveness in the global marketplace and stave off climate catastrophe.

UN chief slams fossil fuel industry and rich countries

The United Nations general secretary Antonio Guterres delivered scathing remarks criticizing developed countries and fossil fuel companies after a closed-door roundtable on Wednesday on climate change, Max Bearac reporting for the New York Times.

The remarks came after at least half a dozen world leaders met privately for a “frank and informal exchange” on climate policy during the United Nations General Assembly At New York. The meeting, chaired by António Guterres and the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisiaimed to lay the foundations for COP27 climate summit in Egypt in November.

After the session, Guterres warned that the most ambitious goal of the Paris agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels – “is fading quickly” due to government and corporate inaction.

“You have all seen the appalling images of Pakistan,” he said, referring to the devastating floods there, which scientists say have been intensified by climate change. “This is happening at just 1.2 degrees of global warming. And we are heading towards more than 3 degrees.

US Civil Rights Commission finds inequity in FEMA disaster response

The federal government’s response to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria in 2017 was not equally serving people with disabilities, poor communities and non-native English speakers, according to a American Civil Rights Commission report released Wednesday, The Post’s David Nakamura reports.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which killed 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, the commission found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency lacked enough Spanish-speaking staff, was insufficiently prepared, and that contractors hired with federal funds often failed to complete their work. Some commissioners argued that Puerto Rico’s status as a territory without full congressional representation added to the inequalities it faced at the time.

Meanwhile, after Hurricane Harvey, which killed 68 people in Texas, people with disabilities often did not receive adequate accommodations after being forced to stay in shelters. The commission recommended that FEMA streamline its process for requesting assistance, but avoid a “one size fits all” approach to disasters while focusing its efforts on the most vulnerable communities.

California Is Bursting With Renewables – Except When It’s Needed Most

California has increased renewable energy production in recent years, but when a rare heat wave hit this month, state officials required residents to conserve power during peak hours. peak to avoid widespread blackouts, as the state does not yet have enough storage capacity to keep the excess. solar and wind energy, Erica Werner reports for La Poste.

Clean power generation in the Golden State is well ahead of storage capacity, forcing energy officials to turn away excess power just hours before peaks in demand. Some proponents of the system have said the current unreliability of the grid is expected as California embarks on the nation’s most ambitious transition to renewable energy, and generation and storage will eventually balance out.

But others argue that as extreme heat waves occur more frequently due to global warming, the strain on the grid will only get worse and it will be difficult for storage capacity to catch up.

“The irony is that the very technology we rely on to fight climate change makes us vulnerable exactly at the times when climate impacts are most severe,” he said. Kyle Mengco-director of the climate and energy program at the University of California at Santa Barbarait is Environmental Market Solutions Lab.


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