I Got Arrested to Stop Manchin’s Pipeline Deal. Here’s Why.

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Climate and Energy

by Wenonah Hauter, Founder and Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

People across the country are standing up to stop the backroom fossil fuel permitting deal from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. On Thursday, I went to Capitol Hill to stand with a group of leaders in the environmental movement. Our demand: Reject the dirty pipeline deal Manchin struck during negotiations over the Inflation Reduction Act. For making that demand, we were arrested. 

Stopping Manchin’s side deal is worth it. 

A line of climate group leaders stands in front of the doors of the Senate Building in D.C., including Food and Water Watch's Wenonah Hauter.
Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter stands with our allies against Manchin’s pipeline bill on September 22. Photo courtesy Collin Rees.

The Dirty Cost of The Inflation Reduction Act

When the IRA became law in August, some hailed it as a victory in the long fight for climate action. But it contained only remnants of a more ambitious climate and economic agenda from President Biden and Congressional Democrats. And the last of those ambitions died at the feet of Joe Manchin and his Big Oil patrons.

In exchange for his tie-breaking vote to pass the IRA, Manchin extracted a promise for legislation to fast-track permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure. 

This summer, leaked details of the deal had the American Petroleum Institute written all over it — literally. An “API” watermark branded the leaked memo, and the memo itself showed just how dangerous the legislation would be.

Now, we have the text of the legislation itself. And it just confirms the danger. 

If passed, Manchin’s pipeline deal will mean more pollution and more dirty energy projects in communities already hard-hit by big environmental burdens. And it will change the National Environmental Policy Act, making it harder for regulators to do their jobs and harder for threatened communities to voice concerns about new projects.

It’s simple — and terrible. Manchin’s deal would gut environmental protections, endanger public health and silence communities. If that’s not worth getting arrested to stop, I’m not sure what is.

The Pipeline Deal Is About Money and Influence

The need for urgent action on climate is obvious. We need to stop the production and use of fossil fuels and quickly transition to clean, renewable energy. Climate chaos is the price of inaction. But Joe Manchin and the fossil fuel corporations that wield money and influence in Washington stand in the way of commonsense policy. 

Manchin claims he’s serving the interests of his constituents by roadblocking climate action. But it’s no coincidence Manchin has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel interests during his career. In fact, he’s taken more campaign cash from the industry than any sitting senator. During this election cycle alone, gas pipeline companies have given Manchin $331,000.

Yet Manchin and the powerful corporations he represents hold, at least for now, veto power over the climate agenda.  

We’re Winning The Fight Against Fossil Fuels

That’s part of the reason it’s so important to stand up against Manchin’s side deal. His one-man veto on climate policy doesn’t reflect the interests of the vast majority of people across the country — or West Virginia, for that matter.

Politics around the climate crisis have swung in favor of real action. Lawmakers are ready to back ambitious and much-needed climate proposals. And they’re ready to push back against the greed of fossil fuel interests embodied by politicians like Manchin. 

Even more importantly, the grassroots movement demanding real action grows more powerful every day. Over 700 organizations oppose the bill. There have been sit-ins at Congressional offices across the country. Scores of frontline community members from Appalachia, to the Gulf Coast, to the Midwest converged on Capitol Hill to demand that Congress reject the deal. 

Food & Water Watch has mobilized more than 8,000 calls from constituents to their representatives. And we’ve gotten 80 members of Congress to publicly oppose Manchin’s dirty deal. 

The coordinated and loud opposition to the deal shows that power is shifting. Our fight against Joe Manchin’s pipeline deal is critical, but this is about more than a single senator. 

Time is running out for the fossil fuel interests that brought us Joe Manchin and his side deal. They can arrest us, but they can’t defeat us. The climate movement will win.

Tell your senator to stop this deal!

Manchin’s Dirty Deal Must Be Stopped

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Climate and Energy

by Mia DiFelice

On August 18 on both coasts, Food & Water Watch organizers took action with our allies in New York City and Seattle. The goal: to demand that our leaders stop the dirty fossil fuel deal proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin around the Inflation Reduction Act.

In New York, 12 activists were arrested for a peaceful sit-in in Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office. In Seattle, 8 were arrested for a sit-in at the office of Sen. Patty Murray, assistant Democratic leader in the Senate. 

In both cities, dozens of activists gathered outside to protest the deal that, as our National Organizing Manager Thomas Meyer said, is “nothing more than a wish list from Big Oil.” So far, neither Sen. Schumer or Sen. Murray have responded. 

The details of this dirty deal will come into focus when the Senate returns to D.C. in September. We still have time to kill this deal, and we’re only just getting started.

The Inflation Reduction Act Came With Strings That Need Cutting

In the final weeks of negotiations on the Inflation Reduction Act, Sen. Schumer struck a deal with Sen. Manchin. Or, we might say, Sen. Schumer struck a deal with Sen. Manchin and his corporate fossil fuel donors.

In exchange for the $370 billion bill, Sen. Manchin secured a promise to introduce legislation that would fast-track permit approval for dangerous new fossil fuel infrastructure. 

The bill, which we can expect when Congress returns in September, is an outrageous concession to the fossil fuel industry. If passed, it would lead to more pollution and other hazards from oil and gas projects, many in communities that are already harmed by fossil fuel projects. And it would silence those communities’ voices in the process. 

Food & Water Watch stands with our allies outside of Sen. Murray’s office in Seattle, protesting Manchin’s dirty deal.

The Side Deal Will Silence Communities And Fast-Track Fossil Fuels

In August 2022, a one-page summary of the deal leaked, and it isn’t pretty. The one-pager outlines changes to the National Environmental Policy Act. This Act has protected communities for decades by requiring developers to assess potential environmental impacts for major projects and gather community input. 

With these changes, the bill would gut environmental protections, endanger public health and sidestep community say. 

The one-pager also references the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a fracked gas pipeline that would cut through hundreds of miles of Virginia and West Virginia. The surrounding communities have fought the pipeline in court for years, and courts have struck down multiple permits granted to the project. The pipeline would cross almost 1,000 streams and wetlands and would spew emissions equal to 26 coal-fired power plants.

The measures in the leaked one-pager would tighten the timeline for NEPA review and put even more strain on taxed federal agencies. As Appalachian Voices points out, this could force agencies to take reports by developers at face value, rather than doing their due diligence to fact-checkclaims. 

Soon after the one-pager leaked, a draft of the legislation followed, bearing the watermark API — as in the American Petroleum Institute, the industry lobby group.

The draft legislation would require the President to create a list of 25 projects with “strategic national importance” to be fast-tracked through the permitting process — and at least 5 of those items must “produce, process, transport, or store fossil fuel products.”

Additionally, at least 2 must be for bogus carbon capture scams. This would lead to more pollution, and more dangerous carbon pipelines like the ones we’re fighting in Iowa

A Side Deal With Big Oil Isn’t Democracy

Manchin claims he’s serving the interests of his constituents, but that’s hard to believe when West Virginians have fought this pipeline for so long. 

It’s even harder to believe when Manchin has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel interests over the course of his career. He has received more campaign cash from the industry than any other sitting Senator, Republican or Democrat. This election cycle, gas pipeline companies gave Manchin $331,000.

Additionally, NextEra Energy, a major stakeholder in the project, has donated to both Sen. Manchin and Sen. Schumer. Clearly, this deal is yet another case of monied interests wooing our elected officials, at the expense of constituents. 

We’re Fighting This Deal Till The End

The bill will benefit oil and gas corporations at the expense of community voice, health and safety. And it will make it even easier for corporations to destroy local environments and worsen our climate crisis. 

We can expect Schumer to attach the bill to a must-pass budget bill in September. Until then, we have to continue to make it clear to our elected officials: our communities will not allow this legislation to move forward. Our climate cannot afford it. We need to stop Manchin’s dirty deal.

FWW is working tirelessly to fight this deal and stand in solidarity with the frontline communities it will harm. We’ve joined 650 other organizations in a public letter calling on Democratic leadership to stop the deal. And we’ll be making noise until leadership knows this deal is poisonous to its base and the communities they serve.

Tell your rep to oppose this dirty deal!

7 Ways Biden Can Prove He’s Listening To Science When It Comes To Fossil Fuels

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Climate and Energy

When Biden announced his early actions on climate change — notably stopping the climate-busting Keystone XL pipeline and halting oil and gas leases on federal lands — he emphasized the need to rely on science in guiding his administration’s efforts. This is good news, but if Biden is really committed to following the science and combating climate change in a meaningful way, he will need to do much more. He will also need to commit to banning fracking and blocking a litany of fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are planned or underway. It’s crucial for him to fully embrace the need to build back the economy and our energy system fossil free.

Building new oil and gas pipelines, power plants and export facilities will lock us into future decades of reliance on fossil fuels. But we do not have decades to act on this crisis — we need to transition to 100% renewable energy in less than a decade.

With no time to waste to avert the worst effects of climate disaster, Biden must take bold action. Here are some of the top projects he could block through executive action, to protect our climate, water, land and communities for future generations.

Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline moves over 500,000 barrels of fracked oil per day from North Dakota through the Midwest. In addition to being a climate disaster, it impinges on Standing Rock Sioux treaty rights and threatens their water supply. It was the subject of massive protests in 2016, and a court confirmed that the environmental review of the project was inadequate. While the pipeline was completed under Trump and allowed to operate without a permit, Biden could shift course and shut it down immediately.

Line 3

Line 3, a proposed tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, would have the climate impact of 50 coal power plants. Line 3 also poses a significant risk to more than 200 bodies of water it crosses, and would violate treaties with the Ojibwe people. There has been and continues to be a massive Indigenous movement leading resistance to this project. While a permit has been granted, Biden should direct his agencies to take all possible actions to stop Line 3. He must also direct his team to make respecting Ojibwe treaty rights a priority.

Gulf Coast Export Facilities

There are currently six liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities proposed in Texas and Louisiana, and more oil and petrochemical facilities proposed along the Gulf Coast. This region has borne the brunt of toxic fossil fuel pollution for decades, which was amplified in 2015 when the federal crude oil export ban was lifted. The Gulf Coast also continues to face devastating climate impacts, including supercharged hurricanes and rising sea levels. Approving additional fossil fuel infrastructure would be harmful for the health of communities in this region, and lock in decades of fracking and climate pollution. Biden could block these proposed export facilities through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). He could also block new petrochemical facilities, like the proposed Formosa plastics and petrochemical facility in Louisiana, by directing the Army Corps of Engineers to reject the required permits.

Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 303-mile fracked gas pipeline that would run through West Virginia and Virginia. The project would not only facilitate more fracking and use of fracked gas, but would also cut across the Appalachian trail, impacting this iconic and well-travelled recreational treasure. It would also conflict with recently-passed Virginia clean energy goals. The Biden Administration has the power through FERC to block this project.

Delaware River Basin Fracking

The Delaware River Basin provides water to over 17 million people in the Northeast. Biden has significant decision-making power over fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure in the basin via the Army Corps of Engineers, which has a key vote in its governing body, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).

Biden should exert leadership in adopting a full and permanent ban on fracking and fracking waste disposal in the Delaware River Basin. He should also block — again through DRBC and FERC — the Gibbstown Logistics Terminal, a large fracked-gas export facility that has been proposed in New Jersey. This export facility and the transmission of gas to it poses significant risks to the water supply of 17 million people, nearby communities and the climate.

Appalachian Petrochemical Storage Hub

Because the glut of fracked gas already being produced is a financial sinkhole for investors, the plastics and petrochemical industries are looking to massively expand capacity in Appalachia, where a key project is this storage hub. The intent is to find new markets for unprofitable fracked gas so investors can recoup their losses. While this buildout will no doubt reap huge profits for the industry, these dirty projects will cause significant public health and environmental impacts for residents. The combination of shale gas production and petrochemical facilities would create what Crain’s Cleveland Business dubbed “an ethane tsunami.” At a time when we need to be moving away from fracked gas and plastics, this project would trap us into decades of additional production. Biden can stop this by overhauling the regulations of the Department of Energy loan guarantees that support this project — rendering it ineligible.

Power Plants in Virginia (And Nationwide)

Two large gas-fired power plants — the C4GT and Chickahominy Power — are being planned just a mile apart in Charles City, Virginia. It is well documented that gas power plants are ticking time bombs for the climate, locking us into years of future carbon emissions. Additionally, like many power plants, these would be located in a majority Black and Native county, representing significant environmental justice impacts. Both plants face delays due to financing and other issues. Biden should halt any permit extensions and direct his agencies to prevent these projects from moving forward until a new review is completed.

Call on President Biden to take these actions as well as banning fracking.

Urge President Biden to listen to scientists and ban fracking immediately.

3. POWERING THE CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION

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Climate and Energy

Powering the clean energy revolution

100% renewable energy is within reach and crucial to avert the worst of climate chaos.

The world is ready now for renewable energy.

4. CALLING FOUL ON FAKE SOLUTIONS

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Climate and Energy

Calling foul on fake solutions

Slick marketing is no substitute for real change.

There are no magical shortcuts like the oil industry wants us to believe.

1. A National Ban On Fracking Is Key

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Climate and Energy

A national ban on fracking is key

Banning fracking everywhere is crucial. If we don’t, the fossil fuel industry will lock us into climate chaos for decades.

There is no such thing as safe fracking.

2. WE MUST END FOSSIL FUELS

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Climate and Energy

We must end fossil fuels

Fossil fuel production and usage is one of the leading drivers of climate change.

We have to be the architects of a new fossil fuel-free future.