Reported changes to permitting process would increase risk to communities and stifle critical public comment

WASHINGTON (August 19, 2022) – With the recent signing of the Reconciliation Bill, congressional attention is turning to proposed reforms to the permitting process for energy development – ​​a “side deal” that media reports say will helped secure key votes for the Cut Inflation Act 2022 just passed. But these fossil fuel-focused proposals to change the permitting process will put communities at risk: they will limit their ability to influence damages from infrastructure projects, especially adverse effects on public health and the environment. fossil fuels. according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement from UCS President Johanna Chao Kreilick.

“Federal agencies and industries cannot simply evade the need to consider public input on projects. Fundamental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the public consultation process they support exist for a reason: because the people whose air, water and land will be affected by infrastructure projects and energy deserve the opportunity to voice their concerns and express how these projects will affect their lives. It is deeply troubling that a permit reform bill would allow polluting industries to put their thumbs in the balance to try to avoid taking responsibility for the potential damages of their actions.

“We will oppose any bill that undermines public health and safety, risks increasing heat-trapping emissions, or gives the fossil fuel industry the opportunity to ignore or bend the rules giving community members a say in what happens to their health and where they live. This public consultation process is especially important for communities that have long been marginalized and set aside in our country’s energy choices and who have borne the brunt of its pollution. These communities must have a say in the future direction of energy infrastructure, consistent with climate and environmental justice goals.