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Conservatives Can Win the Long Game on Permitting Reform

When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) yanked Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) permitting bill this week, he offered his standard and gratuitously partisan and dishonest rationale. He claimed Republicans had “chosen to obstruct instead of work in a bipartisan way to achieve something they’ve long claimed they want to do.”

But Republicans hadn’t been longing for what was being offered. The Manchin bill was a glass of cheap PINO – Permitting in Name Only – that didn’t make substantive changes to the outdated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) while giving the federal government new powers to seize land from states and private landowners through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The product was a Manchin earmark (the Mountain Valley Pipeline) and a political and moral alibi for Schumer. 

>>>READ: Permitting Reform Needed to Reach Clean Energy Goals

The most important story of the week is that Schumer wants the permitting debate to go away because it exposes deep divisions in his caucus and lays bare the grotesque and morally bankrupt hypocrisy of the Sanders, AOC and “Squad” wing of the Democratic Party.  

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On one side of the Democratic caucus, Manchin argued that “a failed vote on something as critical as comprehensive permitting reform only serves to embolden leaders like Putin who wish to see America fail.”

True enough. Yet, Manchin’s problem isn’t Republicans but the Sanders wing. On that side, Sanders argued, “In the midst of the horrific climate crisis that we face, the last thing we need is a side deal which would build more pipelines and fossil fuel projects that would have substantially increased carbon emissions.”

Sanders is once again peddling the anti-science fiction that individual Senators can bend global energy markets with virtue signaling. The cruel irony is the progressive wing is for more oil and gas production. In Russia. In Saudi Arabia. And Iran. Progressives would rather see President Biden empower dictators than American energy producers if doing so increases global supply, lowers gas prices, and helps progressives avoid political accountability for inflation increasing spending orgies. Never mind that saying no to Manchin’s pipeline means progressives are financing regimes that are waging a war on women (Iran), committing genocide (Russia) and dissolving critics in barrels of acid (Saudi Arabia). For the far left, it’s about protecting their political power, not the planet. 

>>>READ: How the West Can Win Putin’s Energy War

Putin’s alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline shows that he is willing to risk war with NATO because he views Western energy policy with nothing but contempt. Sanders, who infamously made a pilgrimage to the Soviet Union in 1988, is a profile in weakness Putin is eager to exploit. Putin doesn’t need to send saboteurs to the United States because he has his own de facto private army working for him in the Democratic Party who are more than happy to blow up Keystone XL and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. 

As Republicans look to 2023, they should relentlessly highlight the divisions among Democrats, work with people of good will and marginalize those who are sanctimonious and hypocritical. Republicans should bring the issue of property rights back to prominence and chastise the far left for relegating property rights to the back of the civil rights bus. The far left can’t argue that it wants people to control their own bodies but not their land. Progressives have imposed a culture of no and obstruction on the climate and energy debate. Conservatives have an opening to create a culture of opportunity, growth, and progress. As C3 Solutions has shown, economic freedom – not command and control policies – are the way the best way create prosperity while protecting the planet. 

Progressives are on the wrong side of not just Americans but the Democratic Party on climate and energy policy. As the C3 Action poll has shown, Democrats prefer an “all of the above” energy strategy that rejects Sanders’ disastrous “everything but American fossil fuels” strategy. Permitting reform is also the most popular climate and energy policy among voters. If progressives continue to say “no” to permitting reform conservatives should say “yes” and demonstrate what real American leadership can mean for the planet and its people.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

Copyright © 2020 Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions

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