May-June Advocacy Update (thanks to Christine Moffett, Witness in Society | Washington D.C. – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America )
Debt Ceiling Deal- Permitting
- Context: Passed both the House and the Senate, the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” H.R. 3746, will suspend the nation’s debt limit until after the 2024 election. In doing so it will cut spending, institute new work requirements for federal food assistance programs, green-light the completion of the Mountain Valley pipeline and make various changes to the National Environmental Policy Act as part of energy permitting reform that is desired from both republicans and democrats. This is likely the first step of a congressional push to continue to reform permitting across the country on energy production projects.
WOTUS: Sackett v. EPA Supreme Court Decision:
- Context: The Supreme Court made a decision in a closely watched case regarding the jurisdictional reach of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The Supreme Court Justices decided in favor of the Sacketts, ruling that the land they are building their home on should not be regulated by the Clean Water Act, which in this case would be considered a wetland. Therefore, under the new Sackett standard a surface connection must be present in order for a wetland to be considered adjacent to a Waters Of The US for jurisdictional, regulatory purposes.
- Context: The Witness in Society team has held various listening sessions for Lutherans across the country to share their concerns about the upcoming 2023 farm bill legislation. We met with members from various time zones and two young-adult specific sessions, around 200 attendees in total. These discussions will inform our policy priorities and advocacy as the current farm bill is set to expire at the end of September. There has been quite a concern about the conservation piece of this legislation.
- Context: More grants are coming out as the money is further being implemented. For example, the Renewing America’s Nonprofit Grant. https://www.energy.gov/sites/default/files/2023-05/Renew%20America%27s%20Nonprofits%20FOA%20-%20At%20a%20Glance_0.pdf
Earlier in May….
- Waters of the US Rule Veto: A new EPA rule would define the geographic reach of the agencies’ authority in regulating US waters to expand to cover streams, wetlands and other water bodies under the Clean Water Act. An attempt to overturn this rule was vetoed by President Biden. Therefore, this week the House held a veto override vote, which did not pass in the house, though the turnout showed that support for the WOTUS has waned in House democrats.
- EPA Clean Car and Clean Trucks rule: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new proposed federal vehicle emissions standards that will accelerate the ongoing transition to a clean vehicles future and tackle the climate crisis. The “Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium Duty Vehicles,” builds on EPA’s existing emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks for MYs 2023 through 2026. Additionally, the “Greenhouse Gas Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3,” would apply to heavy-duty vocational vehicles (such as delivery trucks, refuse haulers or dump trucks, public utility trucks, transit, shuttle, school buses) and trucks typically used to haul freight. The public comment period for both rules is open.
- Environmental Justice Executive Order: President Biden signed an executive order directing every single federal agency to work toward “environmental justice for all” and improve the lives of communities hit hardest by toxic pollution and climate change. Among other things, the order will establish a new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House to coordinate efforts across the government and requires federal agencies to notify communities if toxic substances are released from a federal facility. This rule is especially poignant as a response to the most recent train derailment in East Palestine, OH.