Last week AOC tried to raise awareness on this issue:
Some of you might remember that getting Manchin to support the Inflation Reduction Act required a promise to vote on his own legislation wishlist. The promise Schumer made him was even stronger than that, he’s committed to getting Manchin’s bill passed and he’s going to attach it to the Continuing Resolution to fund the government. These aren’t the compromises already included in the IRA, which includes some fossil fuel handouts, and not enough green energy promotion to meet the scale of the climate emergency, but overall considered a step in the green direction, and a significant step in relation to what anyone expected out of this Congress. This is a separate bill straight from the American Petroleum Institute that cuts through environmental review, public comment periods, and litigation for future energy projects. The full text of the proposal was released today:
The permitting reform stuff is bad enough. The section tacked on to the end pushing through the pipeline referenced in AOC’s tweet is WILD though. For context, several permits pushed through under the Trump administration were overturned in court for failing to follow various agency regulations and laws, including:
-Permits from the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service for failing to account for erosion and sedimentation impacts (Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Up-And-Down Legal Journey: Explained)
-A biological opinion from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, overturned for violating the Endangered Species Act (Court dings Mountain Valley Pipeline again, this time over rare fish | Reuters)
Another required permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers was withheld following the latter court decision (Mountain Valley hits another snag in its pipeline plans)
Manchin’s legislation requires that within 30 days, these agencies reissue the biological opinion and various required permits “substantially in the form” of those previously overturned , that this bill requiring them to do so supersedes any other applicable laws (yes, an add on to a continuing resolution is trying to supersede the Endangered Species Act) , and that these actions “shall not be subject to judicial review.” Furthermore, if you want a court to invalidate the idea that courts can’t invalidate this legislation, it must be done in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. (All of the pipeline’s previous legal troubles have come courtesy of the 4th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over VA and WV. The states where the pipeline is being built. Presumably Manchin expects more favorable treatment from the DC Circuit, although it’s not clear why they would have jurisdiction other than the bill says so. Law bros everywhere are all Tim Robinson IDK If You’re Allowed To Do That.gif so it’s almost certain that 1) you’re not allowed to do that and 2) they’re going to do it anyway.)
Current political status: Manchin thinks he’s owed this bill for his vote on the IRA. Schumer seems intent on honoring that deal despite little support from his own party. Only Sanders has committed to voting no in the Senate. It needs 60 votes anyway so it requires Republican votes. Normally they would love this, but their position was complicated by the other WV Senator Capito introducing a more batshit permitting reform demand. They feel betrayed by Manchin for his IRA vote so there have been rumblings that they won’t support his side deal on principle.
Democrats in the House could also block it, and although AOC’s tweet makes it clear that at least 72 Representatives are against it, very few are committed nos at this point. Schumer believes that if he can squeeze out enough Senate votes for a bill in whatever form it’s too dangerous for the House to send it back with amendments, which may be correct. Odds of Dark Brandon going against it are zero.