Reviews | Democrats tried to sell Appalachia in the pipeline

In late September, the now familiar “debt ceiling showdown” was averted when Sen. Joe Manchin III, DW.Va., withdrew his reform legislation authorizing the Interim Spending Bill because she didn’t have the votes. Not only was a government shutdown averted, but it was also a near miss for anyone who cares about the future of our planet, as the senator’s legislation would have accelerated the construction of a new gas pipeline through the mountains and Appalachian rivers.

It is concerning that members of both political parties continue to provide lifelines to the fossil fuel industry rather than focusing on the immediate and future welfare of the citizens they are meant to represent.

Make no mistake, this development is a huge win for the people of Appalachia. We were listened to, for once, and our representatives in Congress fought for the future of our region.

That close call, however, revealed that there are select Democrats in Congress who are willing to sell out the people of Appalachia on the proverbial river when they are desperate to make a deal. But this bill is not dead yet and now is not the time to be complacent.

The last-minute drama around Continuing Resolution (CR) began with the “Cutting Inflation Act,” which President Biden signed into law in August. The legislation has been described as the most ambitious measure ever taken to tackle climate change. In order to push the legislation through the tightly divided Senate, President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi secured Senator Manchin’s support with a side deal. In exchange for the senator’s vote, the Democratic leadership agreed to attach Sen. Manchin’s measure that would speed up the permitting process for new energy projects to the interim spending bill. This clandestine deal could have come at a significant cost, both familiar and tragic to the people of Appalachia. If passed, we would be in imminent danger of being saddled with the Mountain Valley Pipe (MVP) which, according to one study, would emit 90 million metric tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to the emissions of 19 million of vehicles. If construction is complete, the MVP would be Virginia’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.

More than 70 Democrats opposed the legislation, saying it would have “serious long-term, environmental and public health consequences.” This so-called permitting “reform” would undermine longstanding environmental legislation and policy and emerged from behind-the-scenes discussions without the public or the majority of Democrats in the room.

Republicans also opposed the policy, wanting more aggressive authorizing legislation, and were eager to rob Manchin of a major political victory. It’s worrisome that the future of Appalachia hinges on Republicans’ mercurial relationship with Manchin.

The 91-page bill included amending the Clean Water Act and shortening the schedule of the National Environmental Policy Act, making it easier to build fossil fuel and gas infrastructure in the United States. These reforms would rewrite fundamental environmental legislation, and a shortened process would mean less time. community members to voice their concerns. The bill also required the acceleration of the MVP.

Built on land where no pipeline in the United States has been built before, MVP would traverse rugged mountains, ancient forests, sinkholes, caverns and nearly 1,000 streams, rivers and lakes in Virginia and Virginia. -Western. The required dredging could potentially dump sediment downstream and threaten aquatic ecosystems and drinking water.

Black and Indigenous communities in Appalachia, as well as low-income and rural communities, have suffered and must bear a disproportionate share of the environmental side effects of the Project. A look at the proposed construction shows that the pipeline would pass through some of the most “socially vulnerable” areas of Appalachia. A proposed extension in North Carolina would cross a majority-minority congressional district and cross the traditional burial mounds of Sioux-speaking tribes, including the Monacan and Occaneechi.

The economics used to justify the construction of the pipeline are also questionable. Demand for natural gas has fallen below the rate the pipeline developers used to justify construction. Some projections show that gas from the pipeline is unlikely to be cheaper, and there is no evidence that all the gas delivered will be purchased and used.

If this pipeline was great for the people of Appalachia, its environment, and its economy, it would have been completed by now. Instead, it’s four years behind and the delays keep piling up. In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit was revoked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit due to an inadequate analysis of the pipeline’s effects on wildlife. The court also denied permits issued by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, citing concerns about sediment and erosion, and denied MVP’s request for new judges in June.

With invalidated permits and delays costing billions, there was hope that we wouldn’t have a new pipeline running through our backyards. But then the Democratic leadership in Washington struck a deal without us in the room.

It’s a sign that when communities across the United States unite and push back against unethical policies, we can win.

This is the real world we live in. Compromise is at the heart of all good legislation. But it is concerning that members of both political parties continue to provide lifelines to the fossil fuel industry rather than focus on the immediate and future well-being of the citizens they are meant to represent. The planet’s climate emergency doesn’t care how hard it is to pass bills these days.

For those who care about the future of our communities and our planet, we should take this as a warning. It won’t be the last time we’re told to celebrate a unilateral legislative achievement while ignoring the communities that were left out of the deal.

It is a time of hope and movement. The MVP must always comply with the environmental laws already in force. This gives time for the people of Appalachia to speak out and for people across the country to help us in this fight. While we don’t have President Biden’s ear, we can call attention to the stories of directly affected farmers, war veterans, construction managers and doctors sharing their concerns, tree keepers , elderly and grandmothers who have led blockades, and demonstrations of mass resistance in DC There will still be opportunities for the public to weigh in on this project. Organizations like the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) Coalition announce when public comment periods go live. This pipeline may not be in your backyard, but it will be in someone’s backyard, and fossil fuels will still be consumed on the planet we all share.

At the very least, we Appalachians can force congressional Democrats to be honest about who they choose to sacrifice. And with more sustained energy and focus, we can shut down this pipeline for good.

On the contrary, it is a sign that when communities across the United States unite and push back against unethical policies, we can win. The fight isn’t over, Bill isn’t dead yet, but we can keep fighting until the MVP is. The inhabitants of Appalachia could take advantage of your alliance.

About Keith Tatum

Check Also

Biden’s climate goals could survive this election

Voters line up to vote in Fort Worth, Texas. | Ron Jenkins/Getty Images President Joe …