A slew of bills to let drilling, mining interests call the shots is barreling forward
Toxic mining, fast-tracked fossil fuel projects and horrible Trump-era climate policies—oh my! While we wish we were typing about anything other than anti-climate, anti-public lands legislation, a package of dirty bills including these terrible ideas is precisely what House Republicans intend to pass this spring.
A succession of recent hearings laid out the blueprint for coordinated attacks on public lands and climate progress, together with measures that will blunt opportunities for public input. House Republicans have now wrapped these bad bills into a single, behemoth package, H.R. 1, which opponents have dubbed the "Polluters Over People Act". Listing it as H.R. 1 signifies that Republicans' top priority this legislative session is pushing aggressively pro-drilling and mining bills that will make us take a huge step back on combatting climate change, undermining recent successes and decimating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). And public lands are square in their sights.
Republicans plan to roll back 2022 climate progress
Coming off the recent sting of the Biden administration approving the controversial Willow project, ConocoPhillips’ carbon bomb in the Western Arctic, House Republicans are somehow managing to raise the stakes by attacking the climate progress of the entire past year.
Last summer, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act. Though not perfect, the bill provided necessary first steps for laying the foundation to work toward healthier communities, a more stable climate and a transition to a renewable energy economy.
Across the country, the majority of people—Democrats, Independents and Republicans—supported the Inflation Reduction Act, especially its climate and renewable energy provisions. House Republicans’ new legislation is an attempt to undermine that support, deepen the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, weaken bedrock environmental safeguards and repeal some of the historic climate progress of the previous Congress.
You know what else happened in 2022? Well, among other things, Big Oil and mining conglomerates raked in over $400 billion in profits on the year.
House Republican leaders are subsidizing those corporate polluters instead of pushing for popular, climate-first solutions that prioritize people.
Measures to silence community voices, fast-track mining, relax toxic waste standards
So what’s in this massive bill? Nothing good.
The short version is Republicans are trying to gut NEPA and take away communities’ ability to give input. Why are they trying to do this? They’re trying to promote and speed up extraction projects for fossil fuels and other minerals and metals. Because having more projects that get approved faster translates to drilling and mining companies making more profit. And we know what that allyship between these companies and members of congress looks like.
The long version includes a deeper dive into specific measures that have been wrapped into H.R. 1. Keep reading.
After coming out hot in January with the Strategic Production Response Act, which would force new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters, House Republican leaders kicked off February with a slew of additional bills that would expand oil and gas production and exports. One such measure is the Transparency, Accountability and Production (TAP) American Energy Act that aims to lock in decades of fossil fuel infrastructure and turn back all the fiscal reforms the Inflation Reduction Act made to the federal oil and gas program.
But it doesn’t stop there. There’s also a fistful of measures that would exempt the production, processing and refinement of various materials from protective laws regulating toxic substances, solid waste disposal and clean air standards. Their overly broad interpretation of “critical energy resources” could mean a free pass for virtually anything related to the energy sector, including nuclear waste, mine tailings, petrochemicals and more.
There’s also the Permitting for Mining Needs Act which aims to fast-track toxic mining on public lands and override a century of legal precedent by arbitrarily shortening NEPA public review timelines and limiting public engagement.
Then to round out this flurry of pro-pollution measures, there’s the BUILDER Act. This bill would excuse oil, gas and drilling companies from following certain environmental rules, with sweeping implications for the future of NEPA. In fact, gutting NEPA is this measure’s intent.
Again, even with forward-looking, positive-sounding names, these measures that make up H.R. 1 are actually aimed at silencing community voices. It’s all bad.
And to make a bad thing worse, the Republicans behind these anti-climate, pro-pollution measures are framing the proposed legislation as environmentally friendly and claiming to be proponents of environmental justice.
Reframing a pro-pollution package as pro-climate and tacking on a misleading name about energy costs doesn’t change the intent of this greed-motivated legislation
Undermining environmental review and desperately trying to ramp up drilling and mining on and beyond public lands as quickly as possible under the guise of climate-friendly solutions is an insult to the public. If passed, this legislation will keep us tied to an unstable and unhealthy dependence on fossil fuel energy and irresponsible mining development while filling the pockets of fossil fuel executives, lobbyists and their allies in Congress and doing little to actually lower costs for communities.
To add insult to injury, these bills aim to gut long-standing environmental laws that ensure the public can have a say in whether dangerous polluting projects are built in their neighborhood.
We can’t let House Republicans go forward with their efforts to ramp up dirty drilling and mining projects.
It’s time to start making noise—and with your help, we know we can win. Tell every Member of Congress: We won’t tolerate setbacks to healthy public lands and climate progress.