Manchin Drops Changes on Energy Permitting

Schumer says the proposal could come up again
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2022 1:45 PM CDT
Updated Sep 28, 2022 5:50 PM CDT
Democrats Push Back at Manchin's Energy Deal
President Biden hands the pen he used to sign the Democrats' landmark climate change and health care bill to Sen. Joe Manchin as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer watches last month at the White House.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Update: Facing opposition from both parties, Sen. Joe Manchin abandoned his provision to streamline and speed up the permitting process for energy projects. With that wording dropped, a stopgap spending bill to keep the federal government operating was moved along by the Senate on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports. Before going to President Biden, the bill needs another Senate OK, as well as approval in the House. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate could return to Manchin's proposal another time. Manchin lamented that "it is unfortunate that members of the United States Senate are allowing politics to put the energy security of our nation at risk." Our story from Sept. 11 follows:

Democrats desperately needed the vote of Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to get their signature legislative priority across the finish line. So they did what Washington does best: They cut a deal. To help land his support for a bill hailed by advocacy groups as the biggest investment ever in curbing climate change, Manchin said he secured a commitment from President Biden and Democratic leaders to move a permitting-streamlining package for energy projects through Congress before Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Now the climate bill is law, and the AP reports that Manchin is ready to collect.

But key Democratic constituency groups are lining up against the proposal, calling it bad for the country and the climate. Sen. Bernie Sanders and dozens of House members agree. The fissure could complicate the party's efforts to keep the focus on this summer's major legislative victories going into the November midterm elections, which will determine party control of the House and Senate. More immediately, the divide is testing the ability of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep enough Democrats in line to avoid a partial government shutdown at the end of the month. Schumer is pushing ahead. He said last week that he would attach Manchin's preferred measure to must-pass legislation that would keep the government running into mid-December.

To win over skeptics, some Democrats stress that Manchin's proposal to streamline environmental reviews for energy infrastructure projects would be good for renewable energy, too. Key Democratic senators have called the energy proposal complementary to the climate package that passed last month. Legislative text incorporating Manchin's priorities has not been released, but among the goals he set out is establishing a maximum timeline for permitting reviews. More than 70 House Democrats signed onto a letter Friday calling on Pelosi to keep the permitting provisions out of the spending bill, or any other must-pass legislation this year. They wrote that they're "concerned that these serious and detrimental permitting provisions will significantly and disproportionately impact low-income communities, indigenous communities, and communities of color."

(Read more Joe Manchin stories.)

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