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Dirty Debt Deal: Manchin About To Get His Pipeline

And Graves gets to short-circuit environmental laws


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) really, really wants a fracked-gas pipeline built through Appalachia—the Mountain Valley Pipeline. With the backing of Joe Biden’s White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), he’s repeatedly tried to extort a deal by attaching the pipeline to various must-pass bills. Finally, the threat of government default and a Republican-controlled House of Representatives has tipped the scales in Manchin’s favor, and language expediting the Mountain Valley Pipeline has been attached to the debt ceiling deal (H.R. 3746).

Coincidentally, the stock of Equitrans, the company behind the pipeline, has shot up 40 percent.

As Hill Heat warned might happen, elements from Rep. Garret Graves’ (R-La.) Builder Act, intended to hamstring the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permit process, have also been included in the debt ceiling deal.1

At 3 PM this afternoon, the House Rules Committee takes up the dirty debt deal. Seventeen Republicans, including two members of the rules committee, have already announced their opposition to the deal.

The four Democratic members of the rules committee—ranking member Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.)—are all members of the Progressive Caucus.

Ranking member Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), a champion of the hungry and poor, spoke out against the deal last week:

“I cannot quite understand what they are thinking when they believe it is appropriate to try to balance the budget on the backs of those people, the vulnerable in our country, but we can’t touch tax cuts for billionaires, we can’t touch military spending.”

The dirty debt deal also cuts food stamps for people between 50 and 55, likely pushing about 275,000 people off of food assistance, as part of its austerity by a thousand cuts.

Climate hawk Neguse has been a champion of NEPA, calling it a “critical civil rights tool.” And both Neguse and Scanlon were signatories of the letter opposing Manchin’s dirty deal last September.

Several Virginia Democrats have offered an amendment to strip the Mountain Valley Pipeline fast-tracking from the dirty debt deal. So has Rep. Keith Self (R-Texas), because he doesn’t think Manchin is the only one whose dirty pipelines should get special treatment.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) “plans to file an amendment to remove this harmful Mountain Valley Pipeline provision,” but Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) doesn’t think it’s worth fighting, because he’s a corporate hack.

“The Sierra Club calls on Congress to reject this deal and swiftly pass a clean bill,” executive director Ben Jealous said.

The Sierra Club is the most mainstream of the many environmental groups standing with local anti-pipeline groups and the environmental justice movement against the dirty debt deal.

The League of Conservation Voters’ Tiernan Sittenfeld, in contrast, sheds crocodile tears about the “egregious” deal while not actually opposing it, and promises to “hold extreme MAGA Republicans accountable for manufacturing this crisis” at some point in the indefinite future.

Meanwhile, NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Wildlife Federation seem to be simply ignoring the dirty debt deal’s existence.

How white of them!

Hearings are light this week, as the House is only in session to handle the dirty debt deal. On Wednesday morning, the Environment and Public Works Committee votes on a nuclear-energy bill and the nomination of Jeff Baran to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; in the afternoon Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) chairs an EPW subcommittee hearing on impact of aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and rising water rates.

On Thursday, Manchin’s energy committee examines “the reliability and resiliency of electric service in the United States in light of recent reliability assessments and alerts.”

Hearings on the Hill:

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1 Specifically, the debt deal includes the Builder Act’s limits on environmental impact statements but not on judicial review.

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