Photo by Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

100 Days of Environmental Attacks Under the Republican-Controlled Congress

By: Geoffrey Nolan

After 100 days of controlling the U.S. House of Representatives, House Republicans haven’t been shy about showing their cards. Whether it was Speaker Kevin McCarthy caving to a list of demands from the radical right to become Speaker of the House, or the seemingly endless investigations into Hunter Biden, social media companies, and other right-wing priorities, House Republicans have unfortunately demonstrated an unwillingness—and perhaps an inability—to solve some of the most pressing issues facing our country.

Our environmental protections and the fight to combat climate change have not escaped their ire. In just four months, House Republicans fought to roll back protections for clean water that are broadly popular with their constituents. Their first large piece of legislation, H.R. 1, was a massive giveaway to polluting industries that would sacrifice communities in favor of looser regulations for oil, gas, mining, and coal industries.

The contrast between this Congress and the previous one couldn’t be clearer. Last year, the House Democratic majority passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a once-in-a-generation investment in clean energy that is already jumpstarting our clean energy transition, creating jobs in the green economy, and saving everyday families money to electrify their homes with energy-efficient appliances. Instead of building on that success, House Republicans used their new power to pass legislation clawing back these investments and savings for frontline communities and consumers.

Here’s a quick dive into what House Republicans have been up to over the past four months:

  • Passing the Most Pro-polluter Energy Bill in Recent Memory

It’s telling that the first legislative package House Republicans passed in the new Congress was a giveaway to polluting industries. H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, may as well be called the Pro-Polluter Act as it most resembles a wish list of policies long-championed by the oil, gas, and mining industries. The bill expands oil and gas drilling on public lands, eviscerates landmark environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and effectively silences communities from determining the types of energy projects built in their backyards. It rejects the scientific consensus around climate change and doubles down on fossil fuel production at a time when we need to accelerate our transition to clean energy. It even went so far as to repeal popular provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, cutting critical investments in environmental justice communities and a methane fee to reduce harmful leaks.

  • Weakening Clean Water Protections

At the end of last year, President Biden issued the Clean Water Restoration Rule that restored common-sense water protections that were grounded in science and highly popular with communities across the country. However, they weren’t popular with polluters, reckless developers, and anti-government Republicans. Republicans immediately expressed their intent to block them. Using a procedure under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can overturn recently finalized rules by federal agencies and prevent them from issuing a substantively similar rule in the future. Republicans in both the House and the Senate voted to weaken these protections and give a boon to corporate polluters and developers keen on putting their profits over our right to clean water. After passing both chambers of Congress, President Biden vetoed the legislation, and clean water protections remain in place, for now.

  • Holding the Federal Government Hostage to Further Fossil Fuel Interests

Last week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced his plan to deal with the nation’s debt limit and ensure the U.S. government can continue to meet its financial obligations. While Republicans twice raised the debt limit during the Trump years—and had zero objections to his own impacts on the federal deficit—they are now holding our economy hostage to ram through policy changes that would devastate our clean energy transition. In exchange for raising the debt limit, McCarthy is demanding the repeal of the clean energy tax credits, investments in environmental justice, and consumer rebates in the Inflation Reduction Act along with draconian changes to our permitting process that would greenlight dirty oil, gas, and mining projects with little opportunities for public input. House Republicans are willing to tank our economy, force the United States into default, and hurt everyday Americans just to further their fossil fuel agenda.

What can YOU do to stop these attacks on our environment and our future?

We all have a role to play in stopping these unpopular attacks on our environment, and the public is with us. Polling suggests that voters are deeply unhappy with the trajectory of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and have given them low approval ratings for how they handled not just the environment, but other issues as well. As more and more of these attacks move forward in Congress, we need your help fighting back. You can join Earthjustice Action in our upcoming fights, like our most recent campaign for clean water protections, and help us by calling your representatives directly and letting them know that these policies are unacceptable.

Most importantly, this isn’t just a short-term fight. We’re also looking to the 2024 elections to help Democrats retake the House, maintain Democratic control of the U.S. Senate, and keep President Biden in the White House. We’ll need Earthjustice Action supporters like you to remember these terrible attacks on our environment and voice your disagreement by voting for pro-environment candidates up and down the ballot.

Join us and stay tuned for ways you can get involved in real-time fights to protect our health, communities, and the environment.