FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       
May 31, 2023
Contact: Catalina V. Silva, Humanity Communications Collective, Catalina@humanitycom.com, 571-488-5020


WASHINGTON – In the wake of the release of legislative text for the debt ceiling deal, WE ACT for Environmental Justice Co-Founder and Executive Director, Peggy Shepard, issued the following statement:

“The poison pills in the negotiated debt ceiling deal are a perverse attack on the people most in need of protection and assistance in this country. Under the thinly veiled guise of “reforms,” Congressional Republicans have used the threat of a U.S. default on its debt obligations to extract an agreement that will roll back the environmental health and safety protections contained in the National Environmental Policy Act.

Knowing full well that a U.S. default would likely cause a severe economic downturn, and that the Biden administration would not agree to taking an action that would cause all Americans such economic pain, Congressional Republicans have extorted changes to National Environmental Policy Act that will cause significant harm by undermining health protections. The choice posed by Republicans – that we either accept being unable to afford basic necessities such as food and shelter or being unprotected from pollution, toxic exposures, and the unlawful taking of property – is a false one. This country can pay its debts and keep us safe, secure, and healthy.

We are also alarmed at the greenlighting of the Mountain Valley Pipeline – a failed project with known detrimental impacts. Moving forward with Mountain Valley Pipeline will have devastating clean air and water, cultural and legal impacts for generations to come. We are concerned that this type of unjust greenlighting will be used in the future as a means of evading the type of review needed to ensure our health and safety and to safeguard our right to use our land as we see fit.

Last week, we were among 76 environmental justice, Tribal/Indigenous and allied organizations that called for a clean debt ceiling bill in a letter to President Biden. Today we renew that request by urging Members of Congress to advance amendments that will remove the gutting of National Environmental Policy Act and the Mountain Valley Pipeline from the Fiscal Responsibility Act and deliver the American people a clean debt ceiling bill.

This deal puts polluters over people and shows that politics, not science and data, are driving policy. Our lives and health are non-negotiable. We call on Congress to pass a clean package and to stop sacrificing communities.”

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in creating sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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