Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 28, 2023


Jean Su, (415) 770-3187,

Biden Sacrifices Climate, Working Families in Debt Ceiling Deal

Congress Urged to Pass Clean Bill, Reject Poison Pills

WASHINGTON— President Biden unveiled details of a deal today with House Republicans that expedites the climate-killing Mountain Valley Pipeline, dramatically rolls back the National Environmental Policy Act, and freezes nondefense spending for agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department in exchange for a modest raise of the debt ceiling.

“President Biden made a colossal error in negotiating a deal that sacrifices the climate and working families,” said Jean Su, energy justice program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Biden has allowed Sen. Manchin and Republicans to hold the government hostage to ram through the climate-killing Mountain Valley Pipeline, dramatically roll back bedrock environmental laws that give voice to frontline communities and sabotage agencies whose job is to protect the environment and working families. Congress should reject these poison pills and pass a clean debt ceiling bill.”

The deal greenlights all federal approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and curtails most judicial review of those approvals. The pipeline would lead to annual emissions equivalent to more than 89 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to analysis by Oil Change International. This is equal to the emissions from 26 coal plants or 19 million passenger vehicles per year.

The bill also drastically limits environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act to projects that are under the “substantial” control and responsibility of the federal government. The bill further limits the public’s ability to provide input on fossil fuel projects and other destructive developments that would harm the communities most burdened by pollution, while allowing corporate polluters to effectively rubberstamp the projects they’re proposing.

The bill also cuts nondefense agency spending which, when factoring in inflation, will weaken enforcement of safeguards for the environment and frontline communities while boosting military expenditures. It also includes provisions that could impede the president’s ability to issue rules protecting people, wildlife and the environment.

Earlier this month nearly 300 groups sent President Biden and congressional Democratic leaders a menu of positive actions Congress could take to accelerate renewable energy, address electric transmission challenges and advance environmental justice. The groups recommended sweeping reforms to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and an unprecedented effort to advance distributed renewable energy.

The debt ceiling deal hurts poor families by shrinking vital safety net programs, including increasing work requirements to receive food assistance. It further rolls back the enforcement budget of the Internal Revenue Service passed under the Inflation Reduction Act, hindering the agency’s efforts to crack down on tax evasion by wealthy individuals and big corporations.

The legislation is likely the last word from Congress until after the 2024 election, and perhaps longer, regarding ways to accelerate deployment of and transition to a renewable energy economy.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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