Some of the nation’s leading progressives have signed on to a letter urging House leadership not to attach a bill fast-tracking permits for energy projects to must-pass legislation for funding the government past Sept. 30, according to a list of signatories obtained by TYT.
As TYT first reported, the letter is addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Maj. Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and says fast-tracking permits will hurt Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities disproportionately. A source in the environmental justice movement tells TYT the deadline for members of Congress to sign on has been pushed back to Friday.
The permitting fast-tracking was promised to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in July in return for Manchin helping Sen. Maj. Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, a scaled-down version of Pres. Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
Pelosi endorsed the Manchin-Schumer side deal, but as TYT previously reported, progressives have not been asked whether they’d go along and increasing numbers of them are balking. Their concern is that they’ll have to support Manchin’s bill if Pelosi attaches it to funding legislation required to keep the federal government running past the end of the month.
The potential showdown has been drawing attention since TYT first revealed the progressive rebellion.
On Thursday, the letter’s author, Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), told Yahoo Finance that more than 60 House members had signed on.
The letter was first sent to congressional Democrats for their signatures on Aug. 24. The environmental-justice source provided TYT with a list of signatories from early last week.
Notable signatories include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the rest of “The Squad,” and House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), but also other leading progressives such as Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Katie Porter (D-CA), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD), as well as some House Democrats not always identified as progressive. (The full list of initial signatories appears at the bottom of this article; other House members have signed on since.)
In an interview Monday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) told TYT that Pelosi has not communicated any interest in attaching the Manchin bill to a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded. But he also said Pelosi could seek Republican votes if progressives threaten to kill the Manchin bill.
Defenders of the Manchin-Schumer side deal say that fast-tracking permitting is necessary in the race to slow climate change. Progressives have said clean energy can be fast-tracked without disproportionately hurting disenfranchised communities and without fast-tracking fossil-fuel projects.
An internal summary of the side-deal legislation obtained by Bloomberg says it would fast-track permitting specifically for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which Manchin has supported. When finished, the MVP will carry natural gas more than 300 miles through Virginia and Manchin’s home state of West Virginia.
Manchin, as has been widely reported, has fossil fuel interests of his own. As TYT previously reported, he has made at least $5 million from his coal company.
The initial deadline for lawmakers to sign on to Grijalva’s letter was Aug. 26. However, TYT’s source says Grijalva’s office has extended the deadline to Friday. Grijalva’s office did not immediately respond to TYT’s request for comment.
According to the leaked summary, the legislation calls for the president to keep a rolling list of at least 25 high-priority energy projects – fossil fuel and renewable – to be fast-tracked for permitting. In addition to curbing community power to halt or slow these projects, the bill would also impose a time limit for communities to challenge them in court.
Climate justice activists and lawmakers alike have said the Manchin bill, according to the draft legislative language, would effectively silence Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities already disproportionately impacted by energy infrastructure projects.
In his letter, Grijalva calls for Pelosi and Hoyer to keep the expected government-funding bill free of Manchin’s permitting reform legislation, which Grijalva says contains “anti-environmental and anti-environmental justice provisions.” The letter also says that if it passes, dirty-energy projects will get rushed through “at the behest of the American Petroleum Institute.”
Even if Democratic leadership allows a stand-alone vote on Manchin’s bill and progressives vote against it, Khanna acknowledged to TYT last week that Pelosi could still get it passed by wrangling GOP support. However, Khanna told TYT, ““My sense is, though, to do it on an issue like this would be very divisive, headed into a fall midterm.”
This is the list of early signatories from last week obtained by TYT:
Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC)
Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA)
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)
Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH)
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO)
Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN)
Rep. Ed Case (D-HI)
Rep. Katherine Clarke (D-MA)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA)
Rep. Mark Desaulnier (CA) Rep. Lloyd Dogget (D-TX)
Rep. Adriano Espailat (D-NY)
Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)
Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL)
Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D- DC)
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI)
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Rep. Donald McEachin (D-MD)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
Rep. Gwen Moore (WI) Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA)
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. David Scott (D-GA)
Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM)
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI)
Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
TYT Washington Correspondent Candice Cole was previously a correspondent and senior White House producer for the Black News Channel and has worked at a number of local news outlets. You can find her on Twitter @CandiceColeNews.