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Media Contact:

Josh Eisenfeld (202) 921-6985, jeisenfeld@earthworks.org

Background: Today President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. While the bill makes historic investments in renewable energy, helps under-resourced agencies perform better environmental reviews, and provides funding to underserved communities, it includes provisions opposed by activists and communities already impacted by the harms of fossil fuel extraction and mining. Worst yet, the support of Senator Joe Manchin for the IRA is reported to have been predicated on a dirty side deal for congressional vote this fall on a new piece of legislation that would drastically limit opportunities for frontline community voices to seek justice and improve public health and environmental outcomes from their own government’s oil, gas, and mining decisions.  

Provisions of a leaked draft of the side deal (stamped “DRAFT-API” for American Petroleum Institute) propose to gut the very framework of our national environmental laws, like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Clean Water Act (CWA). Other provisions would speed dozens of mining and mineral processing permits through a statutory scheme designed for surface infrastructure-not mining.  (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). Their design is to manipulate long-established mechanisms for community input environmental reviews by allowing extraction companies to set deadlines and dictate permit processes. 

On Day One of his presidency, President Biden issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to seek input from environmental justice organizations on an ongoing basis. However, this side deal would weaken community consent, close the courthouse door, and erode environmental safeguards, while fast track permitting for oil, gas and mining extraction projects. The passage of such provisions would continue a long legacy of ecological and economical harm in already disadvantaged communities on tribal lands, in Appalachia, and along the Gulf Coast. 

Statement by Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel:

“Climate justice demands we do what science proves is necessary and stop drilling for new oil and gas. The Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy investments are essential, but come at the expense of frontline communities’ health, land, air and water. 

“Senator Manchin’s dirty side deal, which fast tracks drilling, dirty fossil fuel infrastructure and mining extraction, is not a solution to the climate crisis. Congressional Democrats who care about the climate must vote no on this toxic giveaway to the oil, gas and mining industries. 

“President Biden has the authority to be part of the solution to mitigate the climate crisis. He must declare a climate emergency, stop permitting oil and gas infrastructure, and reform our outdated mining rules. Leadership requires action aligned with science, otherwise politics as usual will flood, burn, and hurt us all.”

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