Members Of Congress Have An Opportunity To Make The Climate Crisis Even Worse. Let's See Who Does
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been eager to see the names of the members of the House who have signed onto Raul Grijalva’s letter to Pelosi and Hoyer insisting Schumer’s dirty deal with Manchin not be included in the CR to keep the government running. First, here’s a summary of the letter:
Designate and prioritize projects of strategic national importance.
Direct the President to designate and periodically update a list of at least 25 high-priority energy infrastructure projects and prioritize permitting for these projects.
Require a balanced list of project types, including: critical minerals, nuclear, hydrogen, fossil fuels, electric transmission, renewables, and carbon capture, sequestration, storage, and removal.
Criteria for selecting designated projects includes: reducing consumer energy costs, improving energy reliability, decarbonization potential, and promoting energy trade with our allies.
Set maximum timelines for permitting reviews, including two years for NEPA reviews for major projects and one year for lower-impact projects.
Require a single inter-agency environmental review document and concurrent agency review processes.
Designate a lead agency to coordinate inter-agency review.
Expand eligibility for the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) streamlining and transparency programs to ensure smaller energy projects, critical minerals and mining, and other key programs can benefit from FPISC. Provide FPISC funds to accelerate permitting.
Improve the process for developing categorical exclusions under NEPA.
Improve Section 401 of the Clean Water Act by incorporating improvements from both the Trump and Biden administrations.
Require one of four final actions within one year of certification requests: grant, grant with conditions, deny, or waive certification.
Clarify that the basis of review is water quality impacts from the permitted activity, based on federal, State, and Tribal standards.
Require certification applications to include available information on potential water quality impacts.
Prohibit State or Tribal agencies from requesting project applicants to withdraw applications to stop/pause/restart the certification clock.
Require States and Tribes to publish clear requirements for water quality certification requests, or else default to federal requirements.
Address excessive litigation delays.
Set statute of limitations for court challenges.
Require that if a federal court remands or vacates a permit for energy infrastructure, the court must set and enforce a reasonable schedule and deadline, not to exceed 180 days, for the agency to act on remand.
Require random assignment of judges for all federal circuit courts.
Clarify FERC jurisdiction regarding the regulation of interstate hydrogen pipeline, storage, import, and export facilities. Enhance federal government permitting authority for interstate electric transmission facilities that have been determined by the Secretary of Energy to be in the national interest.
Replace DOE’s national interest electric transmission corridor process with a national interest determination by the Secretary of Energy that allows FERC to issue a construction permit.
Require FERC to ensure costs for transmission projects are allocated to customers that benefit.
Allow FERC to approve payments from utilities to jurisdictions impacted by a transmission project.
Complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Require the relevant agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and give the DC Circuit jurisdiction over any further litigation.
Here are the signatories:
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Chair, House Committee on Natural Resources
Jared Huffman (D-CA), Chair, Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Chair, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources
Joe Neguse(D-CO), Chair, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
Katie Porter (D-CA), Chair, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Donald McEachin (D-VA)
Ed Case (Blue Dog-HI)
Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Melanie Stansbury (D-NM)
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Chuy Garcia (D-IL)
Darren Soto (D-FL)
Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Mark Takano (D-CA)
Adam Smith (D-WA)
Bobby Scott (D-VA)
Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
John Yarmuth (D-KY)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)
Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
Grace Meng (D-NY)
Ilhan Omar (D-NY)
Dwight Evans (D-PA)
Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
Nannette Barragán (D-CA)
Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Ro Khanna (D-CA)
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Madeleine Dean (D-PA)
Alma Adams (D-NC)
Tony Cárdenas (D-CA)
Gerald Connolly (D-VA)
Lucille Royal-Allard (D-CA)
Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
David Cicilline (D-RI)
Jason Crow (D-CO)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Karen Bass (D-CA)
Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE)
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Shontel Brown (D-OH)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)
Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Andy Levin (D-MI)
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Dean Phillips (D-MN)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Stephen Lynch (D-WI)
Ritchie Torres (D-NY)
Cori Bush (D-MO)
Mondaine Jones (D-NY)
Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA)
Jimmy Gomez (D-CA)
Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
Andre Carson (D-IN)
John Sarbanes (D-MD)
Hank Johnson (D-GA)
This morning, Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Marie Newman (D-IL) both told me they had also signed onto the letter and that their names must have been left off inadvertently.
Derek Marshall is the progressive Democrat taking on reactionary McCarthy puppet Jay Obernolte in San Bernardino. Obernolte has been a Climate denier and fossil fuel stooge. "As the big oil and gas lobby continues to price gouge us as consumers," Marshall told me today, "they now want to push forward legislation that strips away protections to keep our environment safe and air clean. Many of our Representatives have signed on to a letter calling on the Natural Resources Committee to prevent any legislation that erodes these protections. As expected, Rep. Obernolte did not, as he continues to use his position in Congress to line the pockets of the oil and gas industry while our district continues to see wildfires due to Climate Change. I call on Rep. Obernolte and all other members of Congress to oppose these efforts by the oil and gas lobby."
Also today, Rashida Tlaib emailed her supporters that “Manchin and his fossil fuel cronies not only secured handouts for corporate polluters in the Inflation Reduction Act, but also tried to push another bill behind closed doors that would benefit polluters even more. I’ve been fighting against this dirty deal, which would drastically expand and fast-track dirty fossil fuel projects like pipelines. It would gut bedrock environmental laws and further take away power from local communities to fight these projects— disproportionately harming Black, brown, Indigenous, and low-wealth communities. Democrats don’t owe Joe Manchin anything after he spent more than a year holding the Build Back Better agenda for ransom, slashing countless lifesaving and life-changing programs. He’s a coal baron who takes more money from mining and fossil fuel special interests than anyone else in Congress. No wonder the American Petroleum Institute wrote a draft of his dirty deal. Joe Manchin’s dirty deal takes aim at the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA)― two bedrock environmental protection laws. It would further harm communities who already live adjacent to polluting fossil fuel infrastructure, which have been treated as sacrifice zones. Having grown up in Detroit by the Marathon Oil Refinery and other corporate polluters, I know what it’s like to be a frontline community treated as a dumping ground. We cannot allow frontline communities to be sacrificed in the name of corporate greed. Instead of letting the fossil fuel industry write our laws, we must center the people bearing the brunt of the climate and pollution crises. We need MORE public review and accountability, not less.”
We know where Rashida stands but most progressives in Congress won’t commit to blocking the deal if Pelosi makes push come to shove by including the deal as part of the CR, as Schumer is doing in the Senate. Ro Khanna said he’s standing with Bernie and Rashida on this. Anyone else? Enough to stop this monstrosity? Writing for Jacobin last week, Julia Rock pointed out that Manchin and Schumer are “Congress’s top recipients of utilities industry and fossil fuel campaign cash. One utility and pipeline company that could benefit from the deal has funneled more than $400,000 to Democrats’ Senate and House campaign committees.”
A friend of mine in Congress told me over the weekend that my “solution” to Congress’ unwillingness to take the Climate Crisis seriously— citizens spitting the faces of members— is “suboptimal” and he had a better suggestion, albeit one that ordinary citizens can’t participate in. He suggested that progressives come up with something that would be at least equivalent green-house gasses-wise to the damage that Manchin-Schumer causes and offer it as a quid pro-quo. In other words, for example, increasing the CAFE standard— which regulates how far a vehicle sold in America must travel on a gallon of gas— for automobiles.
More from Julia Rock:
If Democratic leaders remain committed to using an unrelated spending bill to pass the pipeline provisions, the only chance to stop it could be for enough House and Senate Democrats to vote against the so-called continuing resolution, risking a temporary government shutdown just weeks before the midterm elections.
Even then, Republicans could still provide yes votes to help their own fossil fuel donors, but fewer Democratic votes would raise the hurdle to passage.
If this all feels familiar, that’s because it has happened before. This time last year, the Congressional Progressive Caucus was whipping votes to hold House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to her promise that the bipartisan infrastructure bill and climate and social spending bill would pass at the same time.
That pledge was necessary to keep the climate and Democrats’ social spending bill — known as Build Back Better — paired, because progressives knew they needed to use the Chamber of Commerce–approved infrastructure bill as leverage to force Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to vote for Build Back Better.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus had enough votes to block the infrastructure bill if needed. But when Pelosi broke her promise of keeping the bills together and brought the infrastructure bill for a vote, Congressional Progressive Caucus leader chair Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) caved, and most of the caucus voted for the infrastructure bill.
Manchin then refused to vote for Build Back Better, before ultimately agreeing to a substantially smaller version of the legislation now known as the Inflation Reduction Act. The new legislation included some energy tax credits, climate spending, drug pricing provisions, and health insurance subsidies, but it excluded many of the more progressive elements of the original bill.
Now, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is in a similar position — in this case, it could exercise its power to stop a carbon bomb. But so far, the caucus has stopped short of pledging to vote against the pipeline deal at all costs.
Jayapal did not respond to our query about whether the caucus is urging its members to vote no on a continuing resolution if it includes the pipeline bill.
In addition to Sanders and Khanna, a handful of Congressional Progressive Caucus members have made harsh statements against the prospect of a pipeline bill.
“Handshake deals made by others in closed rooms do not dictate how I vote, and we sure as hell don’t owe Joe Manchin anything now,” Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) told the American Prospect last month. “He and his fossil fuel donors already got far too much in the IRA. I support Chair Grijalva’s call for a standalone vote, and we will vote this dirty deal down, one way or another.”
“I am not going to be steamrolled into a bunch of fossil fuel give-aways just because Manchin cut a deal in a closed room with Chuck Schumer,” Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) said last month. “He doesn’t get to run the show on something like this, and many of us will have a say on what that deal looks like if it even happens.”