Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent a letter with 71 other members of Congress to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) expressing strong opposition to including “comprehensive permitting reform legislation” in this month’s Continuing Resolution (CR).
The full letter is available here: https://bit.ly/3d3yjGc
Last month, the American Petroleum Institute (API) leaked a one-page summary of the permitting reform proposal and draft bill text with an API watermark. As outlined in these documents, the provisions would accelerate permitting review processes and timelines for energy development projects, including fossil fuels. Fundamental public health and environmental protections, like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) would effectively be weakened.
For decades, low-income communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities who have been overburdened by pollution from dirty energy development have fought to strengthen the public input processes mandated by NEPA. As the lawmakers write in their letter, the provisions mandated by NEPA “are among the only tools local communities have to force careful review of federal projects that may have serious, long-term, environmental, and public health consequences in those communities.” Chair Grijalva’s and Rep. A. Donald McEachin’s (D-Va.) Environmental Justice For All Act, the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history, would strengthen NEPA, among other important provisions.
Chair Grijalva and the other members go on to say that attaching permitting reform in a Continuing Resolution would “force Members to choose between protecting EJ communities from further pollution or funding the government.”
On sending the letter and hearing reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) intends to proceed as planned with including permitting reform in the CR, Chair Grijalva said, “In the face of the existential threats like climate change and MAGA extremism, House and Senate leadership has a greater responsibility than ever to avoid risking a government shutdown by jamming divisive policy riders into a must-pass continuing resolution. Permitting reform hurts already-overburdened communities, puts polluters on an even faster track, and divides the caucus. Now is just not the time.”
On Aug. 24, over 650 grassroots organizations and environmental, civil rights, and climate-focused advocacy groups, including the NAACP, Indigenous Environmental Network, Climate Justice Alliance, Appalachian Voices, WE ACT, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Union of Concerned Scientists, 350.org, Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, United for Clean Energy, Working for Racial Equity, and others sent a letter to Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi opposing the permitting reform deal.
Chair Grijalva previously published an opinion piece expressing his opposition to the permitting reform side deal.