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Committee Democrats Advance Policies Driving More Americans Into Energy Poverty


WASHINGTON, D.C.,
July 27, 2022

Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Democrats held a markup on H.R. 2021, the Environmental Justice for All Act, sponsored by Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

“I recently spoke with a company that is ready to hire more than 3,000 Americans to fill high-paying, skilled positions in the oil and gas sector. They’ve passed rigorous environmental reviews and are ready to ramp up construction of their multi-billion dollar facility that would allow the export of clean, American natural gas to our friends around the world. This would have multiple benefits, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to improving national security, to lowering global fertilizer costs. So what are they waiting for? Clearance from a federal regulator for the increased tailpipe exhaust in the parking lot from hiring more workers. One zealous bureaucrat is indefinitely stonewalling jobs that would give working-class Americans a reliable paycheck and provide a much-needed economic boost to the area. These are the kinds of regulatory burdens that trap people in cycles of poverty, eliminating opportunities through a system that is designed to keep them down. No amount of cleverly-titled legislation will change that when its sole purpose is saddling Americans with even more hurdles and regulations. I, along with many of my committee colleagues, represent rural and low-income communities across America. We are actively working to find ways to give them opportunities to live out their dreams. Unfortunately, many of these dreams will be impossible until congressional Democrats stop their war on our natural resources and work with us on responsible, achievable goals that allow both our environment and economy to thrive.”

Background

H.R. 2021 is an expansive bill that aims to regulate everything from energy and minerals development and air quality to cosmetics and feminine products. It would create new, onerous requirements for federal programs and non-federal projects that would significantly increase permitting timelines and open the door for lawsuits. It would establish several advisory bodies and programs, including a new White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council.

H.R. 2021 would require federal agencies to prepare “community impact reports” to assess potential impacts of their actions on so-called “environmental justice communities,” a class of community that would apply to almost every urban area in the U.S. It would also open up a new right of action to sue based on supposed disparate impacts.

Committee Republicans offered a slate of amendments to correct some of the most egregious issues in the legislation, including:

  • An amendment conditioning enactment of H.R. 2021 upon the Secretary of the Interior certifying that the bill will not reduce funding for rural schools, offered by U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.).
  • An amendment adding economic impacts and unemployment rates as factors considered in the Community Impact Reports, offered by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.). 
  • An amendment conditioning enactment of H.R. 2021 upon the Secretary of the Interior certifying that the bill will not impact tribal jobs or tribal energy prices, offered by U.S. Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.).

Committee Democrats voted against these and other Republican amendments.

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