Bloomberg published a copy of draft language for the ‘permitting reform’ bill that Senator Joe Manchin demanded in order to support the Inflation Reduction Act.
The proposal aims to fast track a variety of environmental and public safety reviews for major infrastructure projects, and requires the President to create a list of at least 25 projects deemed to be of “strategic national importance” that would be subject to the review. The list would be updated every six months.
The draft requires that at least five of the priority items “shall be projects to produce, process, transport, or store fossil fuel products, or biofuels, including projects to export or import those products.” Two of the priority projects should be devoted to the “capture, transport, or store carbon dioxide, which may include the utilization of captured or displaced carbon dioxide emissions.” This fossil fuel prioritization continues well past 2030, requiring at least three projects to be fossil fuel oriented while allowing greater discretion to add more to the priority list.
Bloomberg reports that that the document includes a “Draft-API” watermark, which could be a reference to the oil and gas lobbying group that had discussions with Manchin’s staff at the time it was drafted.
In response, Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh released the following statement:
“This should no longer be considered a ‘side deal,’ it is the main event for fossil fuel polluters that have pushed to weaken environmental reviews. The draft requires a constantly updated list of projects that will be placed on the fast track, limiting public input and necessary environmental review. Any future White House that seeks to do special favors for the fossil fuel industry would have broad executive authority to force the construction of new fracking pipelines, power plants and methane export facilities. It would also hamstring the White House in efforts to curtail new fossil fuel infrastructure development sufficient to meet agreed upon climate goals.
“Creating new wind and solar tax credits while giving fossil fuel polluters a green light is the ultimate devil’s bargain. Lawmakers must speak up strongly and swiftly against this massive rollback of public health and environmental protections that will fast track fossil fuel projects.”