Potential bills in Congress to approve fossil fuel licensing would upend basic laws and silence communities

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“Polluters on people.” This is the summary of a new bill in Congress that is extremely dangerous.

WASHINGTON — On the heels of President Biden signing landmark climate legislation, polluters are reportedly urging Congress to pass legislation that would erode U.S. climate action and roll back a slew of environmental laws.

The measure(s) the House and Senate are expected to pass soon would deprive environmental justice communities of a meaningful voice in authorizing pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, let these dirty energy projects bypass safeguards and drastically reduce the time to seek Federal Court review when agencies approve energy projects.

Manish Bapna, President and CEO of the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), issued the following statement:

“We will oppose these polluter-led efforts every time to make sure these bad ideas don’t become law.

“What is particularly alarming is that these potential measures would overturn half a century of laws that have given environmental justice communities a seat at the table. Instead, low-income communities and communities of color need an even bigger voice at the table when proposed projects, like the Mountain Valley pipeline, could harm their neighborhoods, pollute their air supply and water, endangering wildlife and accelerating the climate crisis.

“We will not let the oil and gas industry marginalize communities with retrograde measures like this. Instead, it’s time to pass forward-looking bills like the Environmental Justice for All Act (EJAA), that center communities and advance justice.

Background

Based on a disclosed fact sheet and piece of legislation, the licensing measure reportedly under consideration could apply to a wide range of production, generation, storage or transportation of fossil fuels involving oil and gas, carbon dioxide or minerals.

The measure would fundamentally change existing legislation and significantly restrict citizens’ rights to challenge fossil fuel projects in court. Traditionally, a party has years to challenge an energy project for violation of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act. This bill would prohibit any challenge to an energy project – environmental, health, tribal, labor or taxpayer – unless it is done within 5 months of agency approval, which would severely limit the ability of the public to express themselves.

Additionally, the expected legislation would help revive the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a gas project in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, which was illegally approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers , the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management under the Trump administration. Those approvals were overturned by a federal court and construction is now halted, but the expected legislation would require the Biden administration to quickly renew all four permits and interfere with any federal court review of those decisions.

The planned bill will also likely attempt to limit the scope of federal approval for energy projects. This would limit the ability of states and tribes to fully protect their own waters from harm, as provided for in the Clean Water Act.

Article courtesy of NRDC.

Tweets courtesy of Mountain State Spotlight @mtnstspotlight — a West Virginia nonprofit newsroom “giving the final say on government, holding the powerful accountable, and sustaining outrage until the wrongs are righted.”

Instagram courtesy of @dhlovelife, with all our love, appreciation and thanks to the infinitely wise Daryl Hannah.

Featured photo of a natural gas power plant by Kyle Field | Clean Technica.


 

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