Sen. Joe Manchin’s proposed bill faces opposition from progressive Democrats concerned about its effect on environmental protections. (Photo credit: Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images)
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is leading a group of 18 Republican attorneys general in opposition to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s proposed Energy Independence and Security Act — a bill that would reform the federal permitting process for major energy infrastructure projects.
Manchin, D-West Virginia, released the text of his legislation last week following weeks of deliberations with fellow Democrats. Senate leadership committed to bringing his bill to a vote in exchange for Manchin’s support of the Inflation Reduction Act. However, opposition to the bill voiced by some Democrats in the House and Senate could force him to seek support from a large number of Republicans.
Landry’s coalition of Republican attorneys general hopes to dissuade any GOP members of Congress from joining the moderate Democrat’s position. In a letter to Senate leaders on Monday, Landry wrote with “strong opposition” to Manchin’s legislation, saying it would restrict states’ authority to set their own resource and utility policies and disrupt the “careful balance of state and federal authority that has been a cornerstone of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) for nearly a century.”
The Energy Independence and Security Act would accelerate the federal approval process on major energy infrastructure projects. Some significant aspects of the proposal would:
- Establish a timeframe for completing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. Federal agencies would have two years to complete environmental impact statements and one year to complete environmental assessments.
- Require all other permitting to be completed within 180 days of completing a NEPA review.
- Require the designation of a lead agency to coordinate project reviews and ensure they are completed on time.
- Establish a 150-day statute of limitations for challenging projects in court and require courts to set a reasonable schedule, not exceeding 180 days, for agencies to act on judicial decisions that vacate an issued permit or remand a permitting decision back to the agency.
- Require the president to maintain a list of 25 strategically important energy and natural resource projects with priority given to projects that meet one or more of the following objectives: reduce energy prices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve electric reliability, advance emerging energy technologies, strengthen domestic energy supply chains, or create well-paying jobs.
Manchin has strong ties to the coal industry, having founded a coal brokerage company that his son now operates. The senator disclosed earning more than $5 million in dividends from his investments in the company between 2011 and 2020, according to reporting from Salon and the Guardian.
In a press release issued Monday, Landry attacked the Biden administration and its congressional allies as attempting to turn Americans into “pawns of the green energy industry” and said the legislation would undermine federalism by providing broad new authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“We have spent nearly a decade defending our states against the overreaching and illegal Clean Power Plan — eventually winning at the U.S. Supreme Court; this new Act seeks to undo that work,” Landry said in the release. “Allowing private companies to use eminent domain and pass costs to residents does not equate to independence or security; just more profits off the backs of working families.”
Signing the letter were attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
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