As congressional Democrats launch new clean energy and environmental justice efforts, House Republicans outraged climate campaigners and frontline communities on Thursday with a move to fast-track a long-delayed fracked gas pipeline.
Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-W.Va.), backed by 10 other Republicans,
introduced an amendment to the GOP-led Lower Energy Costs Act (H.R. 1) to ensure that the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is "constructed expeditiously."
Russell Chisholm, managing director of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) Coalition, highlighted that Miller's fresh push for the MVP came just a day after Democrats introduced the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act.
"As they watch the demise of the fossil fuel industry that lines their pockets, they are desperate to fast-track this unnecessary and disastrous pipeline."
"Hours after our environmental justice movement released a positive vision for a livable future, the Environmental Justice for All Act, these Republicans are throwing a tantrum," Chisholm said in a statement Thursday. "As they watch the demise of the fossil fuel industry that lines their pockets, they are desperate to fast-track this unnecessary and disastrous pipeline—to the point that they want to strip away judicial review and nullify bedrock environmental law."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report
released Monday "makes clear that we must stop all new fossil fuel expansion immediately," he continued. "We demand our representatives to silence this ridiculous whining while our regulatory agencies and courts assess the science and evidence that mandates the MVP be stopped."
Jason Crazy Bear Keck, co-founder of 7 Directions of Service, said, "The fact that some of our elected representatives have been bending over backwards to fast track the MVP, a poster child pipeline for corruption and environmental injustices, is appalling to us as impacted community members, water protectors, and land defenders."
"Only a short-sighted, greed-driven person who stands to profit would go to such great lengths to attempt to revive a failing zombie project like the MVP," he asserted. "Time and time again the people have risen up against the backroom deals and slimy maneuverings at the federal level to push MVP through, and we will keep standing up until our basic rights and protections, like those granted by the EJ for All Act, are secured and upheld."
While residents living along the over 300 miles of pipeline route through Virginia and West Virginia have long fought against MVP, the project got national attention last year as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
tried to force a "dirty deal" on permit reforms.
Though Manchin's proposals were thrice
defeated, the right-wing Democrat and MVP supporter signaled in February that he would continue to work with the new House GOP majority to try to advance a fossil fuel-friendly measure.
E&E Newsreported Wednesday that "other politicians hailing from the mid-Atlantic are eager to see the pipeline operate. But Republicans have previously opposed the idea of singling out one project for special congressional treatment. And they might not want to hand Manchin a win at a time when the moderate Democrat mulls running for reelection."
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) last week
introduced the Lower Energy Costs Act—which, while unlikely to make it through the divided Senate and reach President Joe Biden's desk, is intended to wipe out the administration's climate agenda.
Republicans say the proposal, which will be debated and voted on next week, would allow the United States to produce more oil, gas, solar, and wind in a manner that is more environmentally sound than anywhere else on the planet.
The bill, the work of three committees, would require the federal government to hold quarterly oil lease sales in Western states. It would speed up environmental permitting that GOP lawmakers complain drags on years longer than it should. The package would also allow for more hardrock mining in mineral-rich states like Minnesota and Idaho.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday
sent supporters of the GOP bill a clear message from the floor of the upper chamber: "You can do all the hoopla you want in the House, it ain't passing."
The IPCC this week put out "their most dire warnings to date: Unless the world swiftly transitions to clean energy and curbs emissions, our planet risks crossing a point of no return sometime in the next decade," Schumer said. "What awaits us on the other side could be severe and irreversible: droughts, storms, crop failures at a level we can scarcely imagine today."
"House Republicans seem to think the best solution for our energy needs is not to help America transition to clean energy... Unfortunately, they think doubling down on more giveaways to Big Oil is the way to go," he added. "Democrats want to see a bipartisan, commonsense energy proposal come together in Congress, but Republicans' H.R. 1 proposal is dead on arrival in the Senate."