5 things Indian Country Needs to Know about the Dirty Permitting Deal

NDN Collective Policy and Advocacy Memo

Once again, Republicans in Congress are trying to attach harmful permitting legislation to must-pass legislation this week in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. If they’re successful, it will roll back our most important environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which would eliminate the few protections Indigenous and Tribal communities have against irresponsible polluters, mining companies and other harmful extractive industries. The stakes in the current debate are enormous for already-vulnerable communities. 

Since Fall 2022, NDN Collective – along with other Native and Tribal allies – has repeatedly made clear that any dirty permitting side deal is unacceptable. And sadly, our advocacy has to continue despite President Biden making multiple commitments to Tribes and Frontline communities, such as his recent signing of the executive order to revitalize the nation’s commitment to environmental justice. 

5 ways that the co-opted “permitting reform” will harm Indigenous and Native communities and Tribal Nations:

  1. The permitting reform deal guts public comment and Tribal consultations on damaging fossil fuel projects. Tribal nations have also been making strides in orchestrating their own, self-directed, consultations with agencies, and new development that would be curtailed by the side-deal. The side deal does not provide new opportunities or capacities for Tribes to expand and empower their self-governance in permitting. It actually rolls back recent developments in this area.
  2. At this moment, frontline communities and Tribal leaders are being shut out of these environmental and climate related negotiations, which flies in the face of recent commitments by the Biden administration.
  3. The “permitting reform” would backtracks efforts made to advance the Free Prior and Informed Consent framework.
  4. The “permitting reform” deal helps advance proposed projects that will no doubt pollute Indigenous communities and Tribes already overburdened with a disproportionate share of our nation’s pollution as the consequences of decades of environmental injustice, racism, and discrimination.
  5. The dirty side deal’s worst facet is that it allows the mining industry to tilt the scale of our governments’ NEPA decisions heavily in their favor. It is designed to manipulate NEPA’s democratic mechanisms to limit our access to information. As written in this side deal, mining companies would be able to request that federal agencies forgo NEPA compliance, and preemptively limit the time and scope of public review. Source: Earthworks

It is critical in the coming days and weeks that we mobilize and tell President Biden to reject the #DirtyDeal & #DefaultOnAmerica Act! 

Use the following resources to get involved and to amplify: