According to Omar, the Trump administration, is trying to use the renewable energy loans toward fossil fuel, extractive projects.
In particular, the first-year representative from Minnesotta says the president wants to let Appalachian Storage Hub (ASH), to receive a US$1.9 billion loan from the energy department to build an expansive pipeline system across some 50 counties in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. If the administration and ASH get their way, the pipelines would transport fracking byproducts, such as natural gas liquids, for the petrochemical project that would transform the shale extractions into household plastics.
Critics point out that the US$10 billion ASH project is ill-planned and will contribute to more pollution and public health concerns in the region already dubbed Cancer Valley due to its coal industry legacy.
Omar's amendment to a house pppropriations bill could end the ASH project if accepted by Congress. It would set a precedent that such projects for Department of Energy loan could not be used for non-renewable initiatives. Pro-fossil energy and former Texas governor, Rick Perry, currently heads the department.
“Rep. Omar’s amendment is an important tool to ensure that the Department of Energy fulfills its responsibility to use (these) loans only for the purposes Congress originally intended,” a Democratic aide from the appropriations committee told Yahoo News.
“The language of the amendment sends an unmistakable message that the administration must follow the law with these loan guarantees.” The house is set vote on the bill later this week.
The proposed amendment says that the energy department loans will not be used “for a project that does not avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases," reinforcing former president Barack Obama's use of the loan for "renewable energy" projects.
“It is incredibly worrisome that this administration would try to use a program designed for renewable energy to line the pockets of polluters,” Omar stated regarding her initiative.
“We in the legislative branch have a responsibility to ensure that these grants are going to their intended recipients—and to make crystal clear that that they cannot end up in the hands of polluters. Grants that are designed for renewable energy projects should go toward renewable energy. Period.”
The Trump administration has also lobbied for the energy department to use the loan to construct a nuclear power plant in Georgia, giving the company a whopping US$3.7 billion.
“As the Trump administration continues to recklessly promote fossil fuels in the days of climate change, to misuse a taxpayer-backed DOE loan guarantee in support of fracking and ethane storage for plastics would be the opposite of what was intended by (the loan),” said Leatra Harper of the FreshWater Accountability Project.