Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 30, 2023


Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 770-3187,
Dr. Crystal Cavalier, 7 Directions of Service, (336) 530-0930,
Rev. Michael Malcom, People’s Justice Council, (678) 913-7477,

Congress Urged to Pass Clean Debt Ceiling Bill

Lawmakers Should Reject Mountain Valley Pipeline, Environmental Law Rollbacks

WASHINGTON— Environmental justice and environmental groups urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and members of Congress today to vote on a clean debt ceiling bill without the poison pills that harm disadvantaged communities and the climate.

President Biden released details of the debt ceiling deal with House Republicans on Sunday. The bill 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. The deal was made in exchange for a modest raise of the debt ceiling.

“It is a surrender by President Biden to Republican hostage-takers,” the letter from 175 groups said. “It is an injustice and moral failure to have to choose between defaulting on our national debt or bankrupting the health of people and the planet.”

“What is Biden doing? By fast tracking the Mountain Valley Pipeline in his debt ceiling proposal, he is sacrificing Indigenous and Appalachian communities like mine and fueling global climate catastrophe,” said Dr. Crystal Cavalier, co-founder of 7 Directions of Service. “Congress needs to reject this dirtier-than-ever deal, pass a clean debt ceiling bill and protect people, not a handful of corrupt fossil fuel profiteers.”

“The fact is that the proposed cuts in the debt ceiling negotiations are a moral failure. Why is it that our most vulnerable communities are always the ones to be sacrificed?” said the Rev. Michael Malcom, founder and executive director of People's Justice Council. “Biden made commitments to our most vulnerable communities. We have yet to see this commitment realized.”

“It’s outrageous that the country’s debt has been co-opted by Sen. Joe Manchin and Republicans so they can ram through fossil fuel projects and gut bedrock environmental laws that give voice to the public,” said Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Any member of Congress who cares about environmental and social justice should reject this dangerous deal and demand a clean bill.”

The bill’s poison pills include fast-tracking the Mountain Valley Pipeline and curtailing most judicial review of those federal approvals. 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 debt ceiling deal also hurts poor families by shrinking vital safety net programs, including increased work requirements to receive food assistance.

This letter comes after strong support in Congress for a clean debt ceiling bill, including from Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking member and former chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.

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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