More than 100 environmental justice groups and allied organizations voice concerns
Nov. 14, 2022 – Today, more than 70 environmental justice groups and 60 allied organizations demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that equity and justice are central to national policy decisions by sending a letter to President Joe Biden expressing concern about his support of dangerous and undemocratic permitting ideas, including the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022. The advocates called for the President to support reform measures that uphold democracy and center community interests in decision-making for projects designed to advance our national transition to a clean energy economy.
The letter was sent to President Biden in anticipation of the “permitting reform” conversations beginning again as Congress reconvenes. It is expected that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)’s Energy Independence and Security Act, or some version of it, will be re-introduced as an amendment to the last must-pass bills of 2022 – the National Defense Authorization Act and omnibus packages which fund our national security and continue the operation of the federal government.
The signatories oppose legislation that will permanently weaken two bedrock environmental protections, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Both laws ensure thorough evaluation and review of the environmental impacts of major projects and the timely notification of the public with opportunities to comment. Manchin’s bill would severely erode community input, advance inadequate environmental analysis, and eliminate judicial recourse for those most harmed by subpar processes.
Instead, signatories urge President Biden and Democratic Leadership to support the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021/S.872) (EJ4All), a comprehensive bill to reduce environmental inequities, including provisions to protect and strengthen public participation and tribal consultation. EJ4All also includes provisions to ensure the consideration of cumulative impacts in the permitting process and the consideration of alternatives. Signatories urged Biden to require the Jemez principles of democratic organizing, this framework used in the creation of the EJ4All, to be applied to future environmental and climate justice initiatives that come out of his Administration or garner his support.
“Black, Indigenous, people of color, and low-wealth communities are consistently the most adversely impacted by environmental projects. Speeding up their approvals and/or compressing a public comment period is not a good-faith effort to ensure a community is not adversely affected, and the opposite of the intent of environmental protection laws. Senator Manchin’s legislation continues the distressing trend of putting industry interests over the lives of those most impacted by environmental injustices and climate-change-induced disasters.” Peggy Shepard, Executive Director and Co-Founder of WE ACT for Environmental Justice
“We must honor the sacredness of human life and the environment. We must, therefore, work to create a safe and healthy environment within our own communities and support the efforts of others to do so in communities around the country and the world – this includes allowing for community participation inactions impacting them and for the cessation of fossil fuels. Only then can we restore global environmental harmony.” Susana Almanza, PODER
“No matter our race or our zip code, every family deserves clean air, clear water, and healthy neighborhoods where we can thrive for generations. But Senator Manchin and the fossil fuel industry are threatening our future by promoting dangerous, polluting projects in Congress. Any policies that fast-track or expand fossil fuel infrastructure and false solutions like carbon capture and hydrogen are incompatible with the principles of Environmental Justice. From the straits of Mackinac to Detroit, our communities are united in the fight against environmental racism and the climate crisis. We ask President Biden and his administration to reassert their commitment to his Justice40 Initiative by rejecting any and every ‘permitting reform’ efforts that threaten the lives and well-being of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and low-wealth communities in Michigan and around the country.” Juan Jhong-Chung, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition
“Manchin’s proposed permitting reform doesn’t have much to do with renewables. It will unleash a wave of unfettered fossil fuel expansion at the expense of frontline communities, those hit first and worst by the climate crisis who have historically been harmed through environmental racism and economic inequality to name a few. This attempt to weaken communities’ rights by further ridding the country of certain checks and balances would essentially gut the little protection communities have to protect themselves and their families through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This isn’t the way to transition. We deserve more.” – Bineshi Albert, Co-Executive Director, Climate Justice Alliance
“Community engagement and participation is foundational to a healthy democratic state. If this side deal was actually about increasing renewable energy then it would be expediently called out in the bill instead of the rubber stamping process it currently is. We cannot allow solar panels and wind turbines to be used as only window dressing on the house of fossil fuel dominance. The only way to live up to the promises from Justice 40 and to protect our climate is by getting creative, protecting communities while creating a path that speeds up only the good and slows down the harm in our communities. ” – Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Deputy Director, Organizing and Advocacy, Ironbound Community Corporation
”We stand with environmental justice and frontline groups in their calls to protect NEPA and reject any reforms that diminish community input in building pollution-free energy systems.” – Dr. Kristi Pullen Fedinick, Executive Director, Center for Earth, Energy & Democracy
*Original release here.