Katie Porter Turns Tables On GOP Over Dangerous Environmental Proposal

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Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) joined Democratic opposition in recent days to a sweeping legislative proposal from House Republicans that, if enacted, would expand chances for development in fossil fuels, even as much of the world tries to modernize its energy infrastructure to better account for and protect against serious — and in many cases already unfolding — dangers to the climate.

In perhaps an easily predictable area of lawmaking interest for the GOP, the measure, known as H.R. 1, would allow further opportunities for oil and gas drilling on federal lands, hearkening back to Republican positions like oddly intense allegiance to gas stoves. The proposal would also speed up the process of environmental reviews for projects that could produce major pollution, an area of policy that the Biden administration itself already tried to address with its own updates to the rules from the Trump era that Democratic leaders, of course, tried to change to something more protective. The Trump admin had sought to undo federal looks at what have been termed cumulative environmental impacts, a category including climate change, but the current presidential team’s decisions restore such examinations.

“H.R. 1, the Polluters Over People Act, gives billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies to Big Oil and Gas,” Porter said. “It would let fossil fuel companies hoard thousands of unused leases, require the authorization of drilling on federally protected lands, give unilateral authority to corporations to create their own environmental impact statements, and force taxpayers to pay to clean up hazardous mining waste. Congress should be doing the right thing by looking at reforms that protect taxpayers when approving energy projects… We can and should enact permitting reform that protects American taxpayers… To my colleagues across the aisle, you have an opportunity to prove to your constituents back home that you are putting them over polluters.”

Porter discussed an amendment that would help shore up an assurance of actual benefits to residents and those affected. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the former House Speaker who despite leaving her post in Democratic leadership in the chamber retains her seat, also spoke out, using even moral arguments about the urgency of, in a religious sense, caring for “God’s creation” and also simply helping provide protected and safe environmental and climatological surroundings for future generations. The GOP push mirrors past policy hopes from their corner, with Trump’s team having sought to provide opportunities when assessments of environmental impact weren’t even performed. On the flip side, Democratic ambitions around the implementation of these reviews have also focused on indirect emissions and environmental justice, which would include rectifying inequalities reflected environmentally.

Many communities have been uniquely impacted by pollution and environmental dangers, so actively leveling the metaphorical playing field undoes injustices. Check out Porter’s commentary below: