PODCASTEnvironmentally Speaking EP 66: Rejected!

January 27, 20230

Transcript: Rejected!

CLARICE:  Hello, everybody.  And thank you for tuning in to this week’s episode of Environmentally Speaking.MARISA:  Hi, everyone.  I’m Marisa Desautel an environmental attorney in Rhode Island.

CLARICE:  And I’m Clarice.  I’m coming in with our questions, comments, topics, general themes.

MARISA:  What do we have today, Clarice?

CLARICE:  To be fully candid with you folks, today is our – this is our second attempt at recording due to inclement weather.  Our video was very, very off this morning, so this week’s episode is not [inaudible].

MARISA:  Very, very off.  And it at least resulted in a significant amount of stuff that we could laugh at as well as we’re hoping that our wonderful production team is able to use the material from this morning to add into what we’re looking forward to as a blooper reel.  I’m not sure when that’s going to be coming out, but it’s going to have some good stuff, I think.

CLARICE:  It is.  And if you folks can believe all of the mistakes that I do make on camera, imagine all the ones that are going to be in the blooper reel.  You’re in for a treat.

MARISA:  And I think today is our 66th episode.

CLARICE:  It is.

MARISA:  Man, that went by quick.

CLARICE:  I know.  We’re in it now.  But all things good news, I have decided today is a good news episode.  I’m very excited.

MARISA:  Really?

CLARICE:  Yes, my dear pessimist.

MARISA:  Do tell.

CLARICE:  Today we are talking about the Senate rejects an amendment that would speed approval for polluting projects.

MARISA:  Come again?

CLARICE:  The Senate is rejecting an amendment that would make it easier for polluting projects to move quickly, to sort of skip the line past the red tape and the environmental considerations that we so often yell for.

MARISA:  And this is a U.S. Senate issue?


MARISA:  Okay.


MARISA:  Not Rhode Island specific.

CLARICE:  No.  I would say Senate with a capital S, but I think you have to capitalize it for both of them.

MARISA:  I’m sure the folks in Rhode Island would agree with you.

CLARICE:  So Senator Joe Manchin has tried to attach legislation to the National Defense Authorization Act that would weaken NEPA’s ability to review and weigh in on projects.

MARISA:  Look at you using acronyms.

CLARICE:  If you could see my jazz hands.

MARISA:  Could you tell us what NEPA is?

CLARICE:  The National Environmental Policy Act.

MARISA:  Hey, this feels a lot like law school.

CLARICE:  It does every week.

[0:03:01] MARISA:  Really?  You think so?

CLARICE:  Sometimes when we get acronym heavy, but then when I get to talk about environmental impact on cemeteries, less so.

MARISA:  Yeah.  I don’t remember law school being even remotely this fun.

CLARICE:  So this proposed act, like I said, would have allowed projects to skip some of the things that we are so passionate about, that sort of checking in on the environment, doing a study, looking at the area.  Are there endangered species.  Is this an area that needs to be protected.  And ultimately bypass all of that and build whatever it is that was intended to be built.  So the Senate has decided, no, no, you have to wait in line like everybody else and the rules outlined in NEPA are important and deserve to be upheld and we need to keep this process in place.

MARISA:  The article that I’m looking at which you forwarded to me this week comes from Environment Road Island and it goes into not a lot of detail, honestly, about this particular topic but just enough that I feel as though I have something to add, that you’ve got a U.S. senator who is pushing for an amendment to something called the National Environmental Policy Act that we just talked about as an acronym, NEPA – the NEPA statute applies only to the federal government.  It doesn’t apply to state government or municipal government or private citizens.  It only applies to the federal government.  Its teeth are that if you’ve got a major federal project that’s likely to result in a negative impact on human health or the environment that federal agency has to go through an environmental review process.

The action that this U.S. senator is taking, which is bullshit if you ask me because he’s trying to sneak it in under another federal statute – I mean, if you have balls just come forward and say that you want to amend NEPA.  But, no, instead this guy is going to attempt to push a political agenda that would take away the requirement that federal projects have to stop and take a look at what their environmental impact might be.  And according to this article in Environment Rhode Island, the legislation, if it had passed, would have reduced the time for environmental reviews.

So say, for example, you’ve got to do an environmental impact statement within – I don’t know what the actual statutory deadline is, but let’s say it’s six months.  According to this article the legislation would have reduced that time for the environmental review to, I don’t know, let’s say three months.  Cut it in half.  There’s not enough time under NEPA to do the environmental impact statement to begin with.  There’s just not enough time and it looks like the legislation would have significantly reduced that time.  It also would have codified the Mountain Valley gas pipeline project —

[0:06:46] CLARICE:  Yes.

MARISA:  — which means that the federal government would have made this particular gas pipeline project statutory.  And who knows what kind of implications that carries with it, but certainly it would have limited the public’s ability to have any kind of input into the project and potentially objecting to it.

CLARICE:  Uh-huh.  See our past episode on the Open Meetings Act.

MARISA:  Excellent reference.  Thank you very much.  Now, when you are – as a legislator when you’re proposing a change to legislation you generally have to explain yourself and provide some information about why the change is positive.  And in this case it looks like folks were saying that speeding up the NEPA process or the NEPA review process would assist and benefit clean energy projects in America because these clean energy projects are regulatory in nature and they require review and approval.  But an analysis by a group called Environment America and Frontier Group found actually the opposite, that it’s mostly fossil fuel projects that are in review under NEPA and far outnumber clean energy projects.  So if this change to legislation had gone through, the environmental review process for fossil fuel projects would have been sped up.

CLARICE:  And reviewing another article – which I will make sure all of these are included in our show notes in case anybody wants to start their reading here.  This might make your blood boil.

MARISA:  Oh, boy.

CLARICE:  This is the third time this senator has tried to include this language in a bill and his third time being rejected.

MARISA:  God.  This guy sucks.  Where is he from?

CLARICE:  I don’t know.  I haven’t bothered looking.  Yeah.  I found an article by the Sierra Club.  Shout out to anybody who went to law school.  We all know the Sierra Club from there.

MARISA:  Oh, yeah.  Yeah.

CLARICE:  They posted an article discussing how it is the senator’s third attempt and third failure in a row.  And what I loved is the Sierra Club deputy legislative director released the following statement and if I could just read it.  The senator and the fossil fuel industry are learning that no matter how persistent they may be advocates will not back down from this critically important fight against any proposed legislation that would rubber stamp the disastrous Mountain Valley pipeline and other fossil fuel proposals.  We must ensure we must protect the public health of our communities and ensure access to clean water and air for all.  Love that.

[0:09:56] MARISA:  I Googled this fool while you were talking and right on his home page on his website he’s got a picture of a river.  You’ve got to be kidding me.

CLARICE:  Oh, is if a goodbye photo from what he’s doing?

MARISA:  Yeah.  He’s a United States senator for West Virginia.  Yeah.  I’m sorry, people of West Virginia, although, I guess you wanted him.

CLARICE:  Maybe.

MARISA:  He looks like the kind of guy that would try to move forward with a policy like this.  So, yeah, not impressed, Joe.  And I’m glad that the rest of the United States Senate had enough brainpower to figure out that this is not a good idea.

CLARICE:  It’s a small win.

MARISA:  Wait.  And didn’t you say this was going to be a positive episode?

CLARICE:  Yeah.  It was a small win against Joe.

MARISA:  I just ruined all of that.


MARISA:  That’s all I have to say.

CLARICE:  Well, dear listeners, I hope none of you are surprised.  Tell us your thoughts.  Tell us your reactions and any other topics you want to hear.  We’re going to keep finding things that are relevant coming up in the news, but if there’s something that’s on your mind that you want to hear me try to say positively and Marisa bring us back down to earth write in.  Let us know.

MARISA:  It’s almost like I can’t help it.

CLARICE:  It’s the yin and yang of our show.

MARISA:  It is.  That part I appreciate.  Yeah, but I appreciate the feedback.  Anything that anyone wants to hear me babble more about, please send it in.

CLARICE:  Yes.  And you can send it in to Help@DesautelESQ.com.  You can reach us on all the socials at Desautel Browning Law.  This episode won’t have a YouTube video attached, but most of our other ones do.  And we want to hear from you and hear from you soon.  Thank you.

MARISA:  Thank you.

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