Statement: Senate rejects amendment that would speed approval of polluting projects

Media Contacts
Lisa Frank

Executive Director, Environment America; Vice President and D.C. Director, The Public Interest Network

Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

WASHINGTON – An amendment from Sen. Joe Manchin that would undermine bedrock environmental protections in the United States failed to garner enough procedural votes to advance in the U.S. Senate on Thursday night. The senator had tried to attach legislation to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have weakened the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If implemented, the legislation would have reduced time for environmental reviews, codified the Mountain Valley gas pipeline and limited opportunities for the public to challenge potentially harmful projects.

Some of the legislation’s proponents claimed hastening NEPA reviews would primarily benefit clean energy projects but recent analysis by Environment America and Frontier Group found the opposite: Fossil fuel projects in review under NEPA likely far outnumber clean energy projects.

In response, Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office, released the following statement:

“The Senate just made a good choice to reject Sen. Manchin’s proposal. Keeping NEPA strong now will make it easier to make good decisions later on. Mines, pipelines and oil wells pollute our air and water, scar public lands and worsen climate change; once we build them, we’re usually stuck with the impacts for decades. The National Environmental Policy Act is so important because it helps us look before we leap. 

“By defeating this amendment to weaken NEPA, the Senate has preserved our ability to thoughtfully weigh environmental impacts, consider ample public input and hopefully choose not to build when the environmental harms outweigh the benefits.”

Matt Casale, Environment Campaigns director for U.S. PIRG, released the following statement:

“It’s already too easy to get permits to pollute. If it were harder to permit polluting projects, we could have less asthma, cleaner drinking water and a more stable climate. The last thing we should do is allow more destructive, polluting and dangerous projects such as oil pipelines to be easily approved without fully considering the damage they could cause to our health and climate. Thank you to all the senators who voted against this amendment.”