Cc: Members of Congress
Re: Opposition to Fossil Fuel Project Approvals and Permitting Reforms Conditioned on the Inflation Reduction Act
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer,
On behalf of 653 frontline communities and environmental and other organizations representing millions of members and supporters nationwide, we are writing to express our strenuous opposition to any additional fossil fuel giveaways. Alarming proposals have been referenced by Senator Manchin, in a short memo, and in legislative language that was clearly drafted in consultation with the American Petroleum Institute (API). It has been reported that Manchin has demanded these handouts to the fossil fuel industry as a further price for his vote on the Inflation Reduction Act, which already included large giveaways to polluters.
We call on you to unequivocally reject any effort to promote fossil fuels, advance unproven technologies, and weaken our core environmental laws. You must stand with the communities who continue to bear the brunt of harm from fossil fuels and act to prevent wholesale climate disaster.
This fossil fuel wish list is a cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities and the climate. This legislation would truncate and hollow-out the environmental review process, weaken Tribal consultations, and make it far harder for frontline communities to have their voices heard by gutting bedrock protections in the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act.
In a further affront to frontline communities and climate science’s mandate to end all fossil fuel expansion, this legislative proposal would promote and prioritize dozens of fossil fuel projects including the incomplete fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), and dictate where future court cases to protect communities and the environment can be filed. Building this unnecessary pipeline could violate Indigenous sovereignty, property rights, threaten endangered species, devastate sensitive Appalachian ecosystems, further degrade hundreds of critical waterways, and disproportionately harm low-wealth communities and communities of color. The MVP is using eminent domain for their private gain leaving landowners with all the risk. The MVP could be responsible for an additional 89 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the equivalent of 26 coal plants. New fossil fuel infrastructure projects, including MVP, are flatly incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In the words of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”
Prolonging the fossil fuel era perpetuates environmental racism, is wildly out of step with climate science, and hamstrings our nation’s ability to avert a climate disaster. Supporting this legislation would represent a profound betrayal of frontline communities and constituents across the country who have called on you to prevent the multitude of harms of fossil fuels and advance a just, renewable energy future.
For example, the permit review process for the proposed Formosa Plastics Complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana has been critical in protecting the surrounding community, which is about 90-percent Black. If developed, it would produce 800 tons of toxic air pollutants annually, doubling air emissions in the already overburdened community in Cancer Alley. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights called the project “environmental racism” in March and urged U.S. officials to reject the project. Reports of the proposed legislative changes to NEPA and the priority permitting list would perpetuate this environmental racism.
Bold Congressional action to address the existential threat of climate chaos requires limiting the production of oil, gas, and coal, which are responsible for 85% of greenhouse emissions and are the root driver of the climate crisis. Relying only on large scale investments in renewable energy and environmental justice alone will not stave off climate disaster if Congress simultaneously puts its legislative foot on the gas to expand fossil fuel production and false solutions like carbon capture, hydrogen, biomass, biofuels, factory farm gas, and nuclear power. Existing fossil fuel facilities already push us past climate targets; any new fossil fuel projects would be incompatible with avoiding irreversible climatic devastation.
Moreover, tethering this legislation to any must-pass legislation including a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government is morally abhorrent. Holding the funding of the entire federal government hostage to satiate one Senator with a heavy financial self-interest in fossil fuels is beyond irresponsible. Sacrificing the health and prosperity of communities in Appalachia, the Gulf Coast, Alaska, the Midwest, the Southwest, and other frontline communities around the country makes this side-deal profoundly disgraceful.
Truncating environmental reviews does not benefit renewable energy. All this legislation will do is weaken environmental protections that are needed to protect communities, wildlife, and our public lands and waters from the devastation of toxic fossil fuel projects. After all, solar panels do not cause oil spills and wind farms do not contaminate our air and water.
We strongly urge you to reject this fossil fuel handout and side-deal with one single Senator. Our communities and our collective future require the political courage to stop the fossil fuel stranglehold once and for all.