Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and his powerful allies in the oil and gas industry are continuing to push a dirty permitting scheme to enrich fossil fuel companies. While oil and gas lobbyists are bankrolling misleading TV ads saying the measure is a matter of national security, the coal baron senator is attempting to attach an even dirtier version of the legislation to an unrelated defense spending bill.
The efforts demonstrate how desperate Manchin and his fossil fuel allies are to fast-track new fossil fuel projects amid growing public opposition and the worsening climate crisis.
While Democrats have emphasized that Manchin’s permitting deal will spur clean energy production and speed up approvals of transmission lines for wind and solar projects, the measure would on the whole be a climate nightmare. It would weaken environmental laws and fast-track the construction of fossil fuel pipelines through vulnerable ecosystems amid opposition from local communities.
The permitting deal, negotiated by Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), failed to advance in September due to opposition from progressives and Republicans alike. Earlier this week, Democratic leaders pushed to include the permitting deal in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense spending bill moving through Congress, before dropping the effort. Manchin is now trying to attach his permitting deal to the NDAA as an amendment.
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On Wednesday, Manchin released a new text of his permitting deal designed to win over Republican support. The latest version would reduce the potential clean energy benefits of his earlier proposal, as it would no longer allow for federal approval of transmission lines.
“As our energy security becomes more threatened every day, Americans are demanding Congress put politics aside and act on common-sense solutions to solve the issues facing us,” Manchin said in a statement Wednesday. “The Senate must vote to amend the NDAA to ensure the comprehensive, bipartisan permitting reform our country desperately needs is included.”
The Manchin-Schumer permitting deal would be a boon for their fossil fuel industry donors, and has received substantial support from oil and gas lobbying groups.
An early leaked draft of the permitting bill featured the watermark of the American Petroleum Institute (API), a powerful oil and gas lobby that is now blanketing Washington D.C. with ads aimed at passing the measure.
“When it comes to where we get our energy, we’re pretty united,” says one ad running in heavy rotation. “We need more natural gas and oil produced here in America. But politicians in Washington keep looking elsewhere, asking foreign governments to produce more energy instead of in the U.S., blocking more energy on and offshore and halting job-creating energy projects. When it comes to energy, we have a choice: more natural gas and oil made in America. America agrees. Washington should do the same.”
API has spent nearly $14 million on TV ads in the D.C. area this year, including more than $2 million between November 22 and the end of the year, according to data from AdImpact.
“Providing reliable energy and creating innovative climate solutions isn’t an either/or,” says another API ad.
This is climate denial: Scientists have consistently warned that policymakers around the globe must work to rapidly limit carbon emissions in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.
API has long been a purveyor of misinformation about climate science, even though the organization’s own internal research paper from the 1960s predicted — quite accurately — how fossil fuel production and usage would affect global temperatures, ice caps, and sea levels. One paper cited models predicting atmospheric CO2 would reach 370 parts per million by 2000 — astonishingly close to the actual reading of 369.71.
States and localities suing the fossil fuel industry for damages over the impacts of climate change are now using the API paper as evidence that companies — and their mouthpieces — knew unequivocally for decades that their work was harming the planet.