• Hill Heat
  • Posts
  • “This is something the Republican Party has wanted for the last five to seven years I’ve been with them.”

“This is something the Republican Party has wanted for the last five to seven years I’ve been with them.”

The Biden White House embraces the GOP energy agenda; the People's House fights back


Back in 2020, presidential candidate Joe Biden and Senate Environment committee chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) denounced then-President Donald Trump for gutting the National Environmental Policy Act. Biden’s team said Trump was “attempting to destroy a bipartisan, cornerstone law.” Carper said that NEPA, like the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, defended the “principles of democracy and citizen participation.”

In April 2022, the Joe Biden administration reversed most of Trump’s changes, restoring “basic community safeguards,” in the words of Council on Environmental Quality chair Brenda Mallory.

Now, however, the tide has turned, due to the deal cut by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) with Biden to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.

In a press briefing on Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced “we support the permitting reform bill” backed by Manchin, even though full text of the legislation has not been publicly released. As of now, there is only a one-page summary of Manchin’s plan and leaked draft legislation with an American Petroleum Institute watermark.

Remarkably, Jean-Pierre criticized the existence of the permitting process, saying, “Permitting always delays a new solar and new wind projects are among the longest in our — in our country.” [sic]

Carper now says, “The agreement on energy project permitting reform was an essential part of getting the Inflation Reduction Act, and its historic climate and environmental justice provisions, enacted into law. . . and I intend to respect this agreement.”

In August, Manchin told Alex Thomas of the West Virginia Metro News that his permit plan “is something the Republican Party has wanted for the last five to seven years I’ve been with them.”

Explaining the plan to attach his permit bill to the government-funding continuing resolution, Manchin said, “It either keeps the country open, or we shut down the government. That’ll happen Sept. 30, so let’s see how that politics plays out.”

The continuing resolution requires 60 votes to pass; although Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has said he will vote against it if Manchin’s deal is attached, Manchin expects the support of Republicans who are the strongest advocates of the fossil-fuel industry in the Senate, such as Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, John Boozman of Arkansas, and John Barrasso of Wyoming.

These climate-denier Republicans have led the efforts to restrict environmental review of energy projects for years, and now, thanks to Biden, their dreams may come to fruition.

In August, Sens. Capito and Inhofe had proposed an amendment to the Inflation Reduction Act that would have compelled the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and greatly restricted environmental review, as Manchin’s one-pager intends.

As Joe Manchin was scuttling off to his yacht on Thursday, Appalachian activist Grace Tuttle caught him in front of the Capitol for a telling exchange about his deal. At first, he Manchin-splained that his permit reform deal is needed for “renewable investment.” But when asked, “what about communities deserving input and consent no matter what the project is?” he responded:

“That’s why it’s been held up for so long, that’s why it costs $6 billion instead of $3 billion.”

The “it” is the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline. So yeah, it’s not renewables he cares about.

Manchin admitted that by “permit reform” he means getting rid of input and consent from the bulldozed communities. Now Manchin, President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are trying to shove through the long-time agenda of fossil-fueled climate deniers and create more sacrifice zones in the name of green energy.

Grace was one of the hundreds of front-line activists who came to Washington on Thursday to rally against the dirty deal—from Katrina survivors to landowners along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route to Black activists from Detroit and Indigenous activists from Alaska and Navajo Nation.

Seventy-two House Democrats, led by Natural Resources chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), have signed on to a letter opposing the deal, siding with their constituents over extractive industry and the venture capital backing them. Although HuffPost’s Jonathan Nicholson characterized this as a “progressive revolt,” the signatories come from across the ideological spectrum of the House caucus, including 27 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, 25 members of the Hispanic Caucus, and 13 members of the corporate-friendly New Democrats Coalition.

However, the signatories “are not expressly pledging to vote down the spending bill if it includes that language,” Lever News notes.

The White House is expecting Democratic environmentalists—whose organizations are spending tens of millions of dollars backing Democrats intending to betray them with this deal—to back down.

The groups—including Center for American Progress, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists—are part of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform coalition, which spoke out against the Manchin deal at the end of August. IRA enthusiasts Evergreen Action, housed within CAP, have said there is “simply no excuse for Democrats who care about the climate to support Sen. Manchin’s permitting reform proposal—a toxic giveaway that amounts to little more than a fossil fuel wish list.”

Meanwhile, useful idiots like New York’s mansplainer-in-residence Jonathan Chait are falling over themselves to back the Manchin plan, attacking those dumb environmentalists for blocking the climate revolution.

Lead Locally has released its critical down-ballot Green New Dealers slate—39 local climate hawks across the nation who need support to win and “to stand up to fossil fuels and continuing to push for bold action.”

The 2017 National Academy of Sciences study, Valuing Climate Damages, found that the social cost of carbon used by the Obama administration to be badly calculated and absurdly low. A large team of scientists followed the suggestions of the report, and in a new Nature paper, find a cost for carbon pollution nearly four times higher than the official government estimate.

The Bureau of Land Management is moving back to DC, three years after Trump exiled the department to Colorado. In other Colorado news, frackers may now be liable for up to 25 percent of the costs of cleaning up their abandoned wells.

Joe Bernstein effectively summarizes effective altruism:

A number of effective altruists consider alcohol an empirically undesirable drug; others don’t. It seems that the only overriding characteristic of an E.A. party is that the guests won’t stop talking about E.A.

In Memoriam: Bernard Shaw and Brother Cleve.

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. DMs are open@climatebrad

Subscribe to Hill Heat

Climate science, policy, politics, and action

Join the conversation

or to participate.