Democrat opposition to Manchin-Schumer oil permitting deal mounting

Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi had offered to pursue permitting reform.

Democratic lawmakers are expressing growing opposition to the oil-permitting reform deal that party leaders previously offered Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had offered to advance permitting reform and require federal agencies to pursue the Mountain Valley Pipeline in exchange for Manchin's vote in favor of the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act.

The legislation, which Biden signed last month, included an expansion of Obamacare subsidies, a program to lower prescription drug costs for seniors and more than $380 billion for climate-related initiatives such as tax credits and rebates.

Manchin's yes vote was critical to the measure's final passage, considering the 100-member Senate is evenly split among Democrats and Republicans. 

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who typically votes with Senate Democrats, has said he would vote against an upcoming continuing resolution to keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30 if it includes oil permitting language.

In addition, over 70 House Democrats, led by Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, wrote a letter to Pelosi on Friday describing their opposition to the agreement.

“The inclusion of these provisions in a continuing resolution, or any other must-pass legislation, would silence the voices of frontline and environmental justice communities by insulating them from scrutiny,” they wrote. “We urge you to ensure that these provisions are kept out of a continuing resolution or any other must-pass legislation this year,"

Sanders described the deal as a "giveaway" to the fossil fuel industry.

“I rise this morning to express by strong opposition to the so-called side deal that the fossil fuel industry is pushing to make it easier for them to pollute the environment and destroy our planet,” he recently said.   

Manchin's office described the agreement in detail after he announced that he would vote for the Inflation Reduction Act.

"President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have committed to advancing a suite of commonsense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built to deliver energy safely around the country and to our allies," Manchin said in a statement.

According to a document that outlined the framework of the deal, Congress would "require the relevant agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation" of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project that Manchin has long sought to deliver.