PEERMail | A Manchin Miracle?

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A Manchin Miracle

In what’s being called a Manchin miracle by many, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin reached a deal to address climate change as part of the Inflation Reduction Act that was passed by the Senate last night.

According to a PEER analysis, the bill has many positive aspects, but some serious downsides.

On the plus side, this bill would invest hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy programs. It would also reform the broken oil and gas bonding system, requiring oil and gas companies to pay to clean up orphaned wells on public lands, and it would increase onshore drilling and production royalty rates. We are glad to see that the bill would also end noncompetitive oil and gas leases on public lands.

On the negative side, this bill reinstates offshore oil lease sales, requires the Interior Secretary to hold a specified number of onshore and offshore lease sales in order to hold renewable energy lease sales, and requires the onshore lease sale to include at least 50% of the acres nominated by oil and gas companies. The bottom line is this bill will not stop new fossil fuel production – we must find other venues and forums to do that.

Details have also emerged about a “side deal” with Sen. Manchin that would seriously weaken environmental protection laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, under the umbrella of “permitting reform.” For procedural reasons, this “side deal” would have to be accomplished through separate legislation.

Overall, the Inflation Reduction Act presents a historic opportunity for a clean energy future, while serving as a stark reminder that PEER’s work fighting to protect our public lands, oceans, and bedrock environmental laws must continue.


 

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