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September 21, 2022
Washington DC – Today, Senator Manchin (D – WV) released the official text for his Permitting Reform bill, now dubbed the Energy Independence and Security Act, a side-deal that prioritizes the oil and gas industry over the lives of people. It puts Tribal communities at risk, silences our voices, and expects Tribal Nations to foot the so-called “bill.” We condemn such a clear handout to the fossil fuel industry to be snuck into policy, like the Inflation Reduction Act was last month.
The bill, which is slated to go before the Senate this week via the Continuing Resolution, threatens welfare for the fossil fuel industry. First and foremost, Senator Manchin is determined to fast track his pet project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Taking up a whopping seven pages, the proposal immediately contradicts itself in SEc. 24, stating that “the authorization of Mountain Valley Pipeline (1) is necessary (b) to facilitate an orderly transition of the energy industry to cleaner fuels; and to reduce carbon emissions,” despite the fact that fossil fuels account for 86% of GHG emissions.
If passed, the bill would render the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts ineffective for communities already burdened with systemic abuses from the wilfully ignorant industries. With its arbitrary deadlines for public comment and shortened time periods and Executive Order, wherein certain proposed projects can be streamlined and sped through a review process, Tribes are being pushed out of federal processes afforded to them by right as Sovereign Nations.
However, Rep. Grijalva (D – AZ) is offering an alternative, the RESPECT Act, or the Requirements, Expectations, and Standard Procedures for Effective Consultation with Tribes Act. This act requires federal agencies to consult with Tribal governments before taking or permitting actions that would significantly impact them. It would not only include federal agencies to identify sacred sites that could be affected, but also to contact any and all Tribal governments whose land may be affected by any projects, among many other important acts.