We Passed a Climate Bill…With a Dirty Deal??

by Ashley Thomson

August 25, 2022

Senator Manchin made a dirty deal to gut environmental protections, fast track dirty energy projects, and continue to sacrifice communities across the country.

The U.S. has passed a climate bill.  

“The Inflation Reduction Act includes much needed investment in renewable energy, and a down payment on the union jobs we need to propel a green economy. But it is also a slap in the face to the frontline communities, grassroots groups, and activists that made this legislation possible.” – Ebony Martin in our statement on the IRA passage in the Senate.

The U.S. passed The Inflation Reduction Act, a somewhat confusing mix of clean energy tax credits, technology investments (some tech far more effective than others), and fossil fuel friendly provisions, including guaranteeing leasing to the fossil fuel industry in order to unlock renewable energy leases. The IRA is both a continuation of the status quo – (one dependent on structural racism + capitalism) – and one that ushers us into a new phase of the fight for justice and for our climate.  

And, this new phase is off to a rocky start. The IRA was in part passed in exchange for a backroom handshake-deal between Sen. Schumer and Sen. Manchin. This deal seeks to focus on “permitting reform” – the regulatory process large infrastructure projects go through to receive permission to build. But, when we look at the details, we can see this so-called “permitting reform” poses a direct threat to communities that have been viewed as “sacrifice zones.” This Dirty Deal could pass by September 30th. 

Greenpeace US activists bring to life how Big Oil controls puppets like Senator Joe Manchin and in turn how Manchin pulls the strings on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in front of the Capitol. Fossil fuel companies control puppets.

Our details on this Permitting Reform bill come from a leaked draft and a 1-pager from Manchin’s office. In sum: this permitting deal is attempting to gut NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) to fast track harmful fossil fuel projects. NEPA is one of the main tools that communities have to make their voices heard in opposition to projects that will affect them, and the permitting reform is attempting to silence frontline voices, particularly those of BIPOC, low-income, and/or rural communities that so many of these infrastructure projects harm. In short – We must stand for environmental justice and fight this Dirty Deal. 

Wait, how *exactly* can we stop this through Congress? 

As part of their deal, Manchin and Schumer agreed to attach the Dirty Deal to “must pass” Continuing Resolution (a “CR”), a temporary budget extension/approval mechanism for the Federal budget when Congress has not yet agreed on a full appropriations bill. When a Continuing Resolution *doesn’t* pass (i.e., not enough votes), that’s the start of a government shutdown. Congress needs to pass a CR by October 1st – giving us exactly 6 weeks to fight back against the dirty deal.

The plan right now: 

  • Fight for a “Clean” CR – i.e., don’t put the Dirty Deal in the CR.
  • Trash the Dirty Deal completely. There’s no reason to give more giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.We need climate champions who agree to work with leadership and fight against the Dirty Deal – no matter what.  

Regardless of the form the deal takes, we’ll be pushing hard to get a critical mass of Members of Congress to vocally oppose this deal. This deal is a wishlist for fossil fuel execs and completely contradicts what science and justice demands. 

TLDR: Manchin’s Dirty Deal sacrifices communities living near fossil fuel projects and worsens pollution that already kills millions each year. We have a narrow window to stop this fossil fuel wishlist from becoming law. Members of Congress need to stand against this destructive power grab now, and join millions of Americans fighting to stop this dirty deal. Please stay tuned for more updates on how we will organize to build this block of support.

Ashley Thomson

By Ashley Thomson

Ashley is a Campaigner on the Climate team at Greenpeace USA where she works on Federal climate policy. For the past several years she's worked on global climate policy for commodity supply chains, and has organized locally in DC for environmental justice and equity.

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