For Immediate Release,
June 1, 2023
WASHINGTON— Congress today passed a debt ceiling deal negotiated between President Biden and House Republicans that expedites the super-polluting Mountain Valley Pipeline, dramatically rolls back the National Environmental Policy Act, and weakens social safety nets for working families in exchange for a modest raising of the debt ceiling.
“President Biden was not up to the task of confronting Republicans who want to take our environment hostage,” said Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This dirty deal sullies Biden’s climate legacy by gutting our bedrock environmental law and approving the disastrous Mountain Valley Pipeline. The White House has bartered away environmental justice in the name of bipartisanship that sacrifices people and the planet.”
Dozens of Democrat Senate and House members opposed the deal. Hundreds of environmental and justice organizations also urged leaders to strike a clean debt ceiling deal free of these poison pills.
The bill’s poison pills include fast-tracking the Mountain Valley Pipeline and curtailing most judicial review of federal approvals for the pipeline. The bill also significantly weakens the National Environmental Policy Act by exempting certain types of projects from environmental review and allowing fossil fuel corporations to conduct their own environmental reviews. It also imposes arbitrary timelines and page limits on environmental reviews regardless of a project’s complexity, while at the same time freezing the budgets of already under-resourced agencies, challenging their ability to undertake meaningful reviews.
These statutory changes introduce greater legal uncertainty to the National Environmental Policy Act’s application and take away one of the most important legal tools that environmental justice communities and the public have to oppose harmful projects.