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Manchin’s “Dirty” Big Oil Giveaway Defeated Again After Progressive Opposition

It became clear this week that the deal to severely weaken keystone environmental laws wouldn’t have the votes to pass.

Sen. Joe Manchin speaks to the cameras about the reconciliation bill in the Hart Senate Office Building on August 1, 2022.

A last ditch push from conservative coal baron Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Democratic leaders to force a giveaway package for the fossil fuel industry through Congress has failed after climate activists and progressives united against it.

The text of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was released Tuesday night without the text of the side deal that Democratic leaders struck with Manchin earlier this year, meaning that the deal will once again be set aside. The deal, which was also struck down from the must-pass government funding bill in September, would have severely weakened keystone environmental laws and further entrenched the fossil fuel industry by fast tracking projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a favorite of Manchin’s.

The deal was reportedly defeated after it became clear that there wouldn’t be enough votes for it to pass. House progressives and Democrats had voiced their opposition to the deal, with key voices like House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva saying they would vote “no” on the NDAA if it was included. The Congressional Progressive Caucus formally announced its opposition to the deal on Tuesday night.

Some Republicans were opposed to the inclusion of the deal, claiming that it didn’t go far enough to expand the fossil fuel industry and whining that Democrats were adding unrelated provisions to the NDAA, the massive defense funding bill that is deemed a must-pass bill by war hawks on both sides of the aisle year after year.

Climate activists also mobilized against the deal when it was resurrected. Earlier this week, over 750 climate, progressive and justice groups sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) asking them not to include the package in the NDAA.

“This fossil fuel wish list associated with the Inflation Reduction Act side deal, the so called Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), is a cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities and the climate writ large,” the groups wrote in their letter. “This legislation would truncate and hollow-out the environmental review process, weaken Tribal consultations, and make it far harder for frontline communities to have their voices heard.”

When the deal was being considered earlier this year, frontline activists who would have been impacted by projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline said that the deal would have turned their communities into sacrifice zones — areas that would bear the brunt of spills, potential explosions, and pollution caused by fossil fuel pipelines, all to appease a conservative Democrat who has spent the last two years blocking nearly all Democratic priorities from passing Congress.

Progressive lawmakers and climate advocates celebrated the defeat of what they have dubbed Manchin’s “dirty” side deal.

“This is an amazing victory for frontline communities and progressives, who again defeated Manchin’s dirty deal and the powerful interests that attempted to sneak this bill into law,” Jean Su, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice program, said in a statement sent to Truthout.

“Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and President Biden must stop any further attempts to tack this poison pill onto must-pass legislation,” Su continued. “Political leaders need to listen to the people suffering the most harm from the fossil fuel industry and the communities at greatest risk from the ravages of the climate crisis.”

“Thanks to the hard-fought persistence and vocal opposition of environmental justice communities all across the country, the Dirty Deal has finally been laid to rest,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona). “House Democrats can now close out the year having made historic progress on climate change without this ugly asterisk. Of course, we still have much more work to do to bring justice to those communities who are continuing to bear the brunt of climate change, but I’m at least glad we’re not taking a step backwards today.”

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