Congress, Energy, Environment

Manchin promotes his permitting reform bill at the Capitol; says it will be available Wednesday

MORGANTOWN – Sen. Joe Manchin went to bat Tuesday for his permitting reform bill during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol and on the Senate floor.

The bill – he called it the Energy Independence and Security Act – will be in senators’ hands on Wednesday, he said, which gives a good week for everyone to review it before a vote.

The bill – which includes language to ensure completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline here in West Virginia – doesn’t bypass any permitting steps, he said, it just sets guidelines and timetables.

“What’s at risk is the energy independence and the energy security of the United States of America,” he said.

He offered a couple visuals for the D.C. press members and during his floor speech. One showed the cumbersome U.S. permitting process: five to 10 years compared to one to three in Canada and Australia. And that affects not only fossil fuel projects, he said. It ties up green projects such as interstate transmission lines to get wind power to market.

The other showed escalating energy prices during the last five years: natural gas up 200% in the U.S.; up 1,100% in Europe; gasoline up 67% here and residential electricity up 15%.

Permitting boondoggles double the price, he said. The MVP cost has gone from $3.3 billion to $6.4 billion.

Supposedly decarbonizing by relying on countries with far dirtier fuel or hostility to America – Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia – has been a mistake he said. And Europe tried decarbonizing by eliminating fossil fuels. “Look where they are.”

In the political realm. Manchin is relying on Sen. Shelley Moore Capito to bring at least 10 GOP votes to pass the bill, which will be included in the continuing resolution needed to keep government funded when the new fiscal year starts in October.

He applauded Capito for her permitting reform amendment to the Inflation Reduction Act – a messaging amendment that had no hope of adoption. Capito has said more than once, though, that she won’t commit to supporting Manchin’s bill until she sees it.

Manchin bemoaned the political games surrounding the bill. “I’ve never seen stranger bedfellows than Bernie Sanders and the extreme liberal left siding up with the Republican leadership” to oppose it.

He hears that it’s revenge politics aimed at him: “’We’re not going to give a victory to Joe Manchin.’ Joe Manchin’s not looking for a victory. … How much suffering and how much pain do you want on the American people?” Prices will keep soaring.

“Look at the contents of the bill,” he said. “If you can explain it you can vote for it.” One party alone can’t pass it.

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