Several Republicans are opposing Sen. Joe Manchin’s permitting reform push after the senator released the details of his plan. Meanwhile, a new report found disparities in the country’s disaster response.
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Skeptical GOP could threaten permitting changes
Senate Republicans are lining up against the permitting reform bill that centrist
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) unveiled Wednesday evening, shortly before it is to be added to a must-pass government funding bill scheduled for the floor next week.
As a result, key Republicans say a stopgap funding bill with Manchin’s language reforming the permitting process for energy projects will not have enough support to pass.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised to attach Manchin’s permitting bill to a short-term government funding measure in exchange for Manchin’s vote last month for the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping climate and tax reform bill that had been a top priority for President Biden.
- But now Manchin’s bill faces significant uncertainty because of growing opposition from Republicans, who say it doesn’t go far enough.
- “I can’t see how it’s going to pass,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to the GOP leadership.
Asked if Manchin’s bill could get enough Republican votes to overcome an expected filibuster and pass the Senate, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) replied: “Not even close.”
“I think it does as much harm as good, if it does any good at all,” Cramer said. “If you own a pipeline in West Virginia, it’s really great. Other than that, I don’t see a lot of value to it.”
- Manchin’s home-state colleague Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) announced Thursday morning that she supports his permitting reform bill, but most Republicans are coming out against the proposal.
- GOP senators say Capito is embracing Manchin’s proposal because it would approve the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that would span more than 300 miles across West Virginia.
But Senate Republicans who don’t benefit from that project are much more skeptical.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he’s a “no” vote, pointing out the bill does little for his home state.
“I’d like more. I get nothing in South Carolina. I’ll be a ‘no,’” he said.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said he will vote against Manchin’s bill because its reforms don’t cover forestry.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was initially open to Manchin’s bill but then came out against it after Republicans discussed it in detail at lunch.
“I’m not supportive of what’s come out,” he said.
But, some are undecided: Other Republicans such as Sens. John Kennedy (La.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Rick Scott (Fla.) and Mitt Romney (Utah) were still reviewing the bill.
DEMOCRATS SHOW RESISTANCE TOO
A number of Democrats in both chambers are also skeptical of the permitting reform push. A letter expressing concerns about permitting reform was signed by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in addition to the previously known critics Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
And House opponents released scathing statements.
“These dangerous permitting shortcuts have been on industry wish lists for years. And now they’ve added the Mountain Valley Pipeline approval as the rotten cherry on top of the pile,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
Meanwhile, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) signaled that he’d vote against a stopgap funding measure containing it, tweeting, “I certainly cannot support it, and no Democrat should vote for a CR that includes it.”
Commission finds disaster response disparities
The U.S. Civil Rights Commission, in a new report this week, found disparities in the federal government’s disaster responses to the 2017 hurricanes Harvey and Maria.
The report pointed to “potential civil rights issues” for people of color and disabled people and highlighted issues posed by a language barrier.
The Commission found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) didn’t have enough Spanish-speaking employees to accommodate Puerto Rico after Maria struck, causing delays in aid and assistance.
- It also said that documents that had been translated into Spanish were often “inaccurate and confusing” and it said that sign linguists sent to the Island only knew ASL, rather than a common Spanish variant.
- After Hurricane Harvey, the report said that people with disabilities had difficulty accessing specialized housing and also said that there were disparities in “the progress of recovery and rebuilding efforts” between Black, Latino and white families.
- The report also highlighted an unequal federal response between the two disasters, noting that FEMA approved $141.8 million for individual assistance for Harvey victims and just $6.2 million for Maria victims.
What does FEMA have to say: In a written statement, FEMA press secretary Jeremy Edwards said that the agency is “providing accessible, culturally competent information, helping to reduce barriers that communities face in accessing our programs and support and meeting people where they are.”
“FEMA is doing that work now, and we are actively working to improve how we deliver on our mission for all survivors, especially those from underserved communities. While we are proud of the progress we have made under the leadership of President Biden and [FEMA] Administrator [Deanne] Criswell, we know there is still more work to be done,” Edwards said
INTERIOR ADVANCES OFFSHORE LEASING AFTER DEMOCRATIC BILL
The Interior Department on took a step toward advancing new oil and gas drilling off Alaska’s coast, as called for by the Inflation Reduction Act.
The department on Thursday published a “proposed notice of sale” that would move forward with a sale of new rights to drill in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.
The sale would be held on Dec. 30 and offer up 224 blocks for lease.
Moving forward with the sale was required by the Democrats’ inflation Reduction Act and was likely included in order to win Sen. Joe Manchin’s approval.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- EPA to consider tougher emissions rules for heavy trucks (Reuters)
- How planting trees fights racial inequity and climate change in Twin Cities’ poorest neighborhoods (The Star Tribune)
- N.J. will increase targets for offshore wind production to help battle climate change, governor says (NJ.com)
🦝 Lighter click: A woman and a raccoon walk into a bar…
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.