Chair Grijalva Commends House Passage of Inflation Reduction Act, Blasts Side Deal on So-Called Permitting Reform

Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on House passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, by a vote of 220-207. The legislation, which has already passed the Senate and will now advance to President Biden’s desk for signing into law, will invest $370 billion towards addressing climate change—the United States’ most significant climate investment in history. In addition to lowering Americans’ energy costs and creating new clean energy jobs, the bill is expected to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 40% by 2030.

“There’s no question that today is a turning point in history,” Chair Grijalva said. “After decades of climate scientists and activists urging us to act, we have finally taken a first step—and it’s a big one. We’re no longer going to just sit by and watch as droughts, wildfires, deadly heatwaves, and severe storms put our lives and our planet under greater threat. We’re putting response measures in place, like restoring our coastal communities and developing water supply projects for the West, that will help protect us from the worst effects of the climate crisis. We’re also taking serious action to prevent climate change from getting worse, by significantly expanding the possibilities for cleaner, more responsible energy.

“But is this bill an unqualified win across the board? Unfortunately, no. Once again, the voices of poor communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color who have been hurt the most by both climate change and the polluting industries that fuel climate change have gone unheard. These communities have been demanding that we wean ourselves off dirty energy for years, but this bill is handcuffing clean energy development to more oil and gas leasing. Families like those in the Gulf Coast Region and the Arctic already deal with the environmental injustices of fossil fuel development—this bill will keep them careening down an even more dangerous path. 

“Equally egregious, today’s victory may be contingent on a promise to include ‘comprehensive permitting reform’ in must-pass government funding legislation next month. Environmental justice communities know all too well that permitting reform is nothing more than industry code for the systematic gutting of our most foundational environmental and public health protections, like the National Environmental Policy Act. Polluting industries may have won that promise in a deal with a select few, but I intend to do everything in my power to convince the rest of my colleagues to break it.”

The Inflation Reduction Act makes significant investments in climate resilience and adaptation programs, coastal restoration, drought relief, and clean energy development. The legislation also invests in improving environmental data collection and science to enhance environmental reviews and permitting processes to better hold industry accountable for polluting projects.

Among other important investments in the Natural Resources Committee’s jurisdiction, the Inflation Reduction Act includes the following measures:

  • Drought: $4 billion to respond to the historic, decades-long, climate change-driven drought in the West, $550 million for domestic water supply projects in the West, $25 million for canal improvements, and $12.5 million for emergency drought relief for tribes.
  • Coastal Resiliency: $2.6 billion to protect coastal communities and coastal habitats against rising sea levels and storm surges.
  • National Parks and Public Lands: $500 million for resiliency and ecosystem restoration projects in our National Parks and other public lands, which are being negatively impacted by climate change, $500 million to hire additional National Park Service employees, and $200 million for deferred maintenance projects in our National Parks.
  • Tribal, Native Hawaiian, and Insular Climate Programs: $235 million for tribal climate and resilience programs, $25 million for Native Hawaiian climate and resilience programs, and $15.9 million for climate and resilience programs in the U.S. Territories.
  • Clean Energy for Tribes: $150 million to provide electricity and zero-emissions energy systems to Tribal homes.
  • Environmental Reviews and Permitting: $150 million to the Department of the Interior, $125 million to the Department of Energy, $100 million to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, $100 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and $20 million to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to improve environmental data and science for timely environmental reviews and authorizations. $70 million to the Environmental Review Improvement Fund and $40 million to the Environmental Protection Agency to improve permitting and approval processes.
  • Environmental Justice Data and Stakeholder Engagement: $32.5 million for the Council on Environmental Quality to support data collection on cumulative impacts of pollution and $30 million to improve stakeholder engagement. 
  • Marine Facilities: $200 million for new or improved marine facilities, including piers, fisheries laboratories, and National Marine Sanctuary System facilities.
  • Biodiversity: $125 million for Endangered Species Act recovery plans and $125 million for climate resilience projects in the National Wildlife Refuge System and State wildlife management areas.

The Inflation Reduction Act also includes measures to lower American energy costs and make climate change-causing industries pay their fair share:

  • For offshore oil and gas, raises the minimum royalty rate from 12.5 percent to 16.66 percent.
  • For onshore oil and gas, raises the royalty rate from 12.5 percent to 16.66 percent, increases the minimum bid, raises the annual rental fee, charges industry an acreage fee to nominate lands for leasing, and eliminates noncompetitive leasing. 
  • Charges royalties for all gas extracted from public lands and waters, including all gas lost by venting, flaring, or negligent releases.

In stark contrast to these historic climate investments, the Inflation Reduction Act reinstates the November 2021 Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas lease sale—covering approximately 1.7 million acres—that was vacated by a federal court judge in January 2022. The bill also requires the Department of the Interior to hold three offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Alaskan coast. Despite widespread support for its repeal, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Oil and Gas Program remains in place.

While announcing the Inflation Reduction Act, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also announced an agreement to pass “comprehensive permitting reform legislation.” Shortly after, the American Petroleum Institute, a powerful fossil fuel trade association, leaked a summary of that proposal and draft bill text. Based on that information, the proposed permitting reform would restrict public access to the courts to seek remedies against illegal project development; place arbitrary limits on the amount of time the public has to comment on polluting projects; curtail public input, environmental review, and government accountability; require a certain number of harmful fossil fuel projects to be designated as “projects of strategic national importance” to receive priority federal support, assistance, and expedited environmental review; undermine the Clean Water Act; and more. 

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