Ranking Member Grijalva Blasts House Republicans' H.R. 1, The Polluters Over People Act

Washington, D.C. – On the House floor today, Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) spoke against Republicans’ H.R. 1, the Polluters Over People Act, which is a shameless giveaway to the oil, gas, mining, and other polluting industries. The Polluters Over People Act puts Americans in harm’s way by gutting our bedrock and environmental and public health laws and ignoring the climate crisis—all in the name of fast-tracking polluter projects.

WATCH Ranking Member Grijalva’s statement on the Polluters Over People Act. 

The transcript of Ranking Member Grijalva’s statement is below:

Today I rise in urgent opposition to Republicans’ H.R. 1.

Last week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its final report.

Their message couldn’t be clearer. We have a lot to do, and very little time to do it, before the ticking climate bomb we’re living in goes off.

But I want to emphasize that their message wasn’t one of complete despair. There is hope. But the hope hinges on two major conditions.

One, we must stop burning fossil fuels, the number one cause of climate change.

And two, we must transform our energy system to a cleaner and more sustainable one now.

H.R. 1, the bill before us today, which has earned the fitting title of Polluters Over People Act, will actively and aggressively take us backwards on both those accounts.

Looking more like a nearly 200-page love letter to polluting industries than a serious legislative effort, the Polluters Over People Act is a laundry list of gifts and giveaways to polluting industries.

Let’s look at what it does for Big Oil, for example. Last year, oil companies shattered profit records across the board by price gouging working Americans at the pump while also hoarding thousands of unused leases on our public lands and waters.

Rather than hold Big Oil accountable for this abuse, the Polluters Over People Act lowers royalty rates, repeals interest fees, reinstates noncompetitive leasing, and forces federal agencies to hold rock-bottom lease sales, all but assuring that last year’s profit records will soon be broken again.

Never to be outdone, the mining industry gets its fair share of gifts in H.R. 1 as well.

Mining companies, many of which are foreign-owned, already enjoy a veritable free-for-all on our public lands.

They make a mockery of tribal consultation, destroy sacred and special places, ruin the landscape, and leave behind a toxic mess that pollutes our water and hurts our health — all without paying a cent to the American people. Not one red cent is paid in royalties.

And now, included in this package is now they can use the public land for anything they want, including dumping of toxic mineral waste.

There’s more, but suffice it to say, with all these handouts, it comes as no surprise that the Congressional Budget Office just reported last week that H.R. 1 will actually INCREASE the federal deficit.

Staying true to its name, Polluters Over People Act also fast-tracks dirty energy projects by gutting our bedrock environmental and public health laws, namely the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

This is not a new so-called “permitting reform” solution they’ve come up with to address our energy needs. This is the same ideological attack I’ve seen Republicans in the Natural Resources Committee launch on NEPA year after year after year.

So, for anyone who is being lured into thinking there are opportunities for negotiations on this bill, do not be naïve. This performative permitting reform is not a bipartisan solution, not even a starting point for one.

This is just another decades-old request from polluters to make their operations cheaper and easier, while making Americans’ lives harder and more costly.

It is not a serious solution to any of our energy goals. Even former President George W. Bush’s head of permitting efforts has said that this bill will be “of no statistically significant consequence.”

In fact, the Polluters Over People Act has none of the real permitting solutions that can speed up the buildout of clean energy infrastructure that we all need.

One of those solutions would be increasing funding for federal permitting offices, which is exactly what Democrats did when they secured more than $1 billion for in last year’s historic Inflation Reduction Act. Even Republicans’ own witness at our hearing called this money “wonderful.”

But no more of that funding is in H.R. 1.

Another solution for speeding up clean energy development is reforming the planning and cost allocation processes for electrical transmission lines that can carry renewable energy from different sources across the country.

But no, you’re not gonna see that in H.R. 1 either.

And of course, any REAL permitting reform solutions would make sure to protect and empower the communities that have been disproportionately hurt by dirty energy and other polluters for decades — and that are now being hit the hardest by climate change as well.

But as you can probably guess, H.R. 1 doesn’t just fail to protect those communities — it silences them further, laying them bare to even more devastation, harm, and exploitation.

The Polluters over People Act isn’t just an embarrassment of riches for polluting industries — it’s an embarrassment to our communities, to our climate goals, and to this legislative body.

And I reserve the balance of my time.

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Lindsay Gressard