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Murray protest

Activists pressured Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to reject proposed permitting reforms for dirty energy projects in Seattle on August 18, 2022. (Photo: Food & Water Watch)

Activists Arrested at Seattle Protest Pushing Murray to Reject 'Dirty' Manchin Deal

"Sen. Murray and the rest of our congressional delegation must speak up strongly and swiftly against this massive rollback of public health and environmental protections that will fast-track fossil fuel projects."

Jessica Corbett

Eight activists were arrested this week for protesting at the Seattle office of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, urging the Washington Democrat to oppose what critics call the "dirty side deal," or permitting reforms for fossil fuel projects.

"We can't let Big Oil gut our bedrock environmental laws and bulldoze over communities; we need to stop this dirty deal."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed to work on advancing such reforms to secure Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) support for the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law on Tuesday.

The action targeting Murray, the Senate's third-ranking Democrat, followed a Thursday protest outside Schumer's Manhattan office—which, as Common Dreams reported, also resulted in arrests.

Murray's constituents delivered a letter to her staff and asked that she pledge to oppose the deal. According to Food & Water Watch, "When they didn't get that commitment, eight activists with the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition staged a peaceful sit-in at the office and held a banner."

Dozens of demonstrators also rallied outside the building with signs that said, "No permit deal for Big Oil" and "Don't sacrifice communities to Big Oil."

According to a leaked one-page summary, the proposed deal includes prioritizing projects of "strategic national importance," time limits for permit reviews, changes to federal water rules, restrictions on court challenges, boosting federal authority for certain facilities, and completing the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Participants in the Seattle demonstration called out not only the pending deal but also Manchin, who blocked the bolder House-approved Build Back Better Act and has significant personal and political ties to the fossil fuel industry.

"Sen. Manchin held climate action hostage to make deals for his buddies in the fossil fuel industry," declared longtime writer and local activist Emily Johnston. "We can't let Big Oil gut our bedrock environmental laws and bulldoze over communities; we need to stop this dirty deal."

Food & Water Watch national organizing manager Thomas Meyer similarly said that "the proposal from Sen. Manchin is nothing more than a wish list from Big Oil, whose only goal is more profit at the expense of people and the planet."

"Washingtonians expect our representatives to fight for real climate action and deliver for working families, not make deals with Big Oil," he added. "Sen. Murray and the rest of our congressional delegation must speak up strongly and swiftly against this massive rollback of public health and environmental protections that will fast track fossil fuel projects.”

Will Livernois of the climate activist group Scientist Rebellion said that "as a scientist and researcher, it is impossible to ignore the reports of our trajectory towards catastrophic climate breakdown."

"The climate crisis is here and it is deadly," he warned. "We are desperate for the government to listen to science so that we can avoid the worst effects of the climate and ecological crises, and transition towards a safe livable future. Fossil fuel expansion is not compatible with this future."

Dr. Annemarie Dooley, a member of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, highlighted that Murray's constituents are already enduring the deadly impacts of humanity heating up the planet, pointing out that "over 400 people died in Washington state last year from a heat dome—deaths linked to burning fossil fuels."

As Dr. Bill Daniell, an environmental health physician and retired faculty at the University of Washington School of Public Health, put it: "Anyone with their eyes open can see that the climate is changing disastrously for human health and well-being."

"New long-term commitments to fossil fuel infrastructure make no sense and only serve corporate greed," he said. "Congress must stand up against false narratives and squash any legislation making it easier to continue oil and gas exploration or build new pipelines."

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