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Senator Joe Manchin Unveils Bill That Would Accelerate Federal Energy Projects | Joe Manchin


U.S. Senator Joe Manchin on Wednesday released an energy permit bill to fast-track fossil fuel and clean energy projects.

The bill is expected to come with a temporary government funding measure that Congress must pass by Oct. 1.

The legislation would require the federal government to issue permits for Equitrans Midstream Corp’s long-delayed $6.6 billion Mountain Valley pipeline to transport natural gas between West Virginia, the home state of Manchin, and Virginia.

The broader funding bill must be approved by the House and Senate and be signed by Joe Biden to become law. Manchin staff told reporters they believed the funding bill would get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate with the authorization measure attached.

The authorization measure by Manchin, a centrist Democrat and a major 50-50 Senate swing vote, would require Biden to designate 25 energy projects of strategic national importance for speedy federal review.

The US power grid needs expansion and fixes as some of its main transmission lines are 50 years old. Improving transmission lines would help renewable projects like wind and solar farms in rural areas provide clean energy to cities.

The bill also sets a two-year target for environmental reviews of energy projects that must be performed by more than one federal agency.

Progressive lawmakers and environmental groups fear the bill could speed up fossil fuel projects while undermining U.S. environmental laws. In the House of Representatives, 77 Democrats this month asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to include the side deal in the funding bill.

Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, said after the bill’s release that he could not support its “highly unusual provisions” regarding the Mountain Valley pipeline.

Kaine said they are “eliminating all judicial review” for key elements of the pipeline approval process and removing jurisdiction from a U.S. appellate court over cases involving it. He said he was not included in discussions of the measure, even though 160 km of pipeline would pass through his state.

While the bill would speed up processes required by a foundational U.S. green law called the National Environmental Policy Act, which mandates reviews of major projects, “it doesn’t change the underlying laws,” a staffer said. from Manchin to reporters on a call. .

Getting at least 10 Republican senators to back the measure could be complicated after Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from Manchin State, released her own more fossil fuel-friendly bill this month.

Some Republicans were also concerned because Manchin voted for Biden’s Cut Inflation Act, which contained $369 billion for climate and energy security.

Speaking about some Republicans’ reluctance to support authorization, Manchin said Tuesday: “If they’re willing to say they’re going to shut down government because of a personal attack on me, or not looking good of the country, that’s what makes people sick of politics.

theguardian Gt

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