Climate defenders celebrate as Senate defeats Manchin’s dirty deal a third time

Climate defenders celebrate as Senate defeats Manchin’s dirty deal a third time
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) // CBS News

The U.S. climate movement and people on the frontlines of the planetary crisis celebrated Thursday after the U.S. Senate declined to add Sen. Joe Manchin's fossil fuel-friendly permitting bill to a military spending package.

While the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was ultimately approved, the West Virginia Democrat's amendment fell short of the 60 votes needed to include his Building American Energy Security Act.

The 47-47 vote Thursday evening came after two earlier defeats: The bill was left out of the NDAA draft last week; and in September, Manchin asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—who agreed to push through permitting reforms if Manchin voted for the Inflation Reduction Act—to remove a previous version from stopgap funding legislation.

"Defeated for the third time this year, this zombie bill would have fast-tracked dangerous fossil fuel and mining projects that would undercut the positive impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act," explained Chelsea Hodgkins, Oxfam America's climate policy adviser. "Sen. Manchin's proposal would do nothing to address the real barriers to renewable energy development, which include fully resourcing underfunded agencies and investing in community-supported renewable systems."

"Continued reliance on fossil fuels is making communities in the U.S. sick and driving climate change impacts in communities around the world," she stressed. "Sen. Manchin's dirty deal had absolutely no place in a must-pass bill like the National Defense Authorization Act; it is unpopular and dangerous."

Matt Casale, environment campaigns director for U.S. PIRG, argued that "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," he said. "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."

Several campaigners not only praised the senators who opposed Manchin's amendment but also called out those who supported it.

"We are thrilled that Manchin's push to get his Big Oil wish list attached to must-pass legislation has failed for the third time," said Ariel Moger, government and political affairs director at Friends of the Earth. "Leader Schumer and Democrats who voted for the dirty deal should be ashamed of themselves."

"It is appalling that they are willing to sacrifice frontline communities and the climate to appease Manchin and corporate polluters," she charged. "Democratic leadership owes a swift apology to those suffering from environmental racism and climate change impacts for insisting this deal ever see the light of day."

"The people have triumphed over the polluters once again," said People vs. Fossil Fuels, a national coalition of over 1,200 organizations. "Sen. Manchin's dirty deal was a direct assault on frontline communities and the environmental laws that protect our air, water, climate, and public health."

"But we know this fight isn't over: The fossil fuel industry and the politicians in their pocket will continue to try and rubber-stamp more dangerous fossil fuel projects," the coalition continued. "Wherever they go, we'll be there to stop them."

Collin Rees of Oil Change International declared: "Good riddance to Manchin's dirty deal—the Senate's rejection of this dangerous bill is a resounding win for environmental justice communities and the climate. We've stopped this zombie bill three times and we'll do it as many times as needed."

Crystal Mello, an organizer with the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition, delivered a similar message: "Every time we defeat Manchin's dirty deal, it gets weaker. This isn't the end of the fight because Manchin will continue to endanger our lives for his profit by trying to pass fossil-fueled legislation. We will continue to fight this dirty deal until it is defeated because our future is at stake."

Mello also had a message for President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Schumer, and all other members of Congress who have supported Manchin's effort: "Wake up and back frontline communities as we continue to fight this bad bill."

Food & Water Watch policy director Jim Walsh said that "it's time for Sen. Schumer to realize that fast-tracking a dirty backroom deal on behalf of the fossil fuel industry is a political loser and a climate disaster. Instead of looking to rush through favors for corporate polluters, lawmakers should turn their attention to real solutions that promote clean energy and protect our climate future."

Ahead of the vote, Biden on Thursday reiterated his support for Manchin's proposal, provoking widespread outrage.

"The dirty deal directly contradicts President Biden's climate plan and his rhetoric about environmental justice," People vs. Fossil Fuels said after the vote. "President Biden needs to listen to communities, not Big Oil CEOs, and use his power to reject all fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency, and we will continue to demand that he protects our public interest and follows through."

Rees asserted that "President Biden's strong support of this deadly legislation is a deep stain on his climate legacy."

"We'll keep standing with communities on the frontlines," he vowed, "to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline once and for all, oppose fossil fuel expansion and sacrifice zones, and build a just renewable energy future."

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