Ranking Member Grijalva Statement on Environmental Rollbacks and Mountain Valley Pipeline Provisions in Budget Agreement

Washington, D.C. – Following yesterday’s release of bill text for a budget agreement, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on provisions that roll back key protections under our bedrock environmental and public health laws, namely the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Among other things, the bill limits the types of projects subject to NEPA review, allows polluters to conduct their own environmental reviews, and codifies various provisions of the Trump administration’s 2020 NEPA regulations. The bill also includes provisions that undermine the Endangered Species Act and other essential environmental laws.

“There is no room for compromise when it comes to our bedrock environmental laws, especially for communities that have been systematically targeted by polluters for decades. NEPA is these communities’ strongest—and often their only—tool when it comes to protecting themselves against industry wrongdoing. Rather than strengthen that tool, this bill gives polluters a shield, inevitably worsening an already unacceptable status quo.

“And as we’ve heard time and time again from experts, NEPA is not the problem when it comes to energy project delays. The reforms we actually need are fully staffed permitting offices, transmission project reforms, and strong early engagement that prevents conflicts down the road—this bill’s slicing and dicing of NEPA won’t do any of that.

“But of course, it’s no surprise that when you have Big Oil’s favorite GOP lap dogs at the negotiating table, NEPA is the first target of attack. Even worse, I doubt this major blow is the end of their assault. Moving forward, I urge my colleagues to see Republicans’ never-ending attack on NEPA for what it is—a decades-old, industry-funded partisan attack that hurts all of us, but especially poor people and people of color. Once again, polluter profit is the point.”

The bill also includes provisions to mandate permit approvals and block judicial review for the highly controversial and environmentally destructive Mountain Valley Pipeline, on which Ranking Member Grijalva said, “Mandating approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is a disturbing and profoundly disappointing addition to this bill. Condemning Appalachian communities to generations of pollution and pain is a legacy that no one should be forced to vote for.” 

Earlier this month, Ranking Member Grijalva led a letter signed by 83 House Democrats to President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) urging them to oppose inclusion of environmental rollbacks in any must-pass legislation.

Outside of Congress, 63 environmental justice organizations and allies signed onto a letter to President Biden detailing their opposition to environmental rollbacks in legislation to lift the federal government’s debt ceiling.

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Lindsay Gressard