A last-ditch effort to ultimately weaken environmental protections and fast-track fossil fuel projects has failed.
The Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, a fossil-fuel-friendly lawmaker from West Virginia, attempted to latch the controversial deregulation onto a must-pass defense bill.
Manchin failed to get his so-called “dirty deal” passed earlier in the year, and tried it again.
The proposal to attach his bill to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual appropriations bill that will be voted on later this week, was reportedly supported by both President Joe Biden and House leader Nancy Pelosi.
But progressive lawmakers and hundreds of climate, public health and youth groups opposed the move to pass such consequential reforms without proper scrutiny.
Manchin’s legislation would weaken environmental safeguards and expedite permits to construct pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure while restricting public input and legal challenges.
More than 750 organizations sent a letter to Pelosi and congressional leadership opposing the legislation, calling it a “cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities.”
Attaching the “dirty deal” to the NDAA, which would have been one of Pelosi’s final acts as speaker, threatened her legacy and the party’s climate credibility, the groups said.
The deal was ditched – for now at least – amid mounting criticism aimed at the Democratic leadership.
While environmental groups welcomed the legislation being scrapped, they warned the fossil fuel industry would not give up on it.
Experts criticized Manchin’s efforts to tie the deal to any must-pass legislation, saying it was both undemocratic as well as devastating for the planet.
Manchin receives more campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry than any other lawmaker.
Manchin’s bill, described by environmentalists as a “fossil fuel wishlist”, was first attached as a side deal to Biden’s historic climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, but was eventually thwarted after widespread opposition from progressive Democrats and civil society groups.
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