By MATTHEW DALY – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin spoke out on Tuesday against what he called the “politics of revenge,” as liberals in the House and Senate join Republicans in opposing its plan to speed up permits for gas pipelines and other energy projects.
Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, secured a commitment from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders to include the permit package in an interim government funding bill in exchange for his support for a landmark law to fight climate change.
But in the weeks since Biden signed the so-called Inflation Reduction Act last month, Democrats and environmental groups lined up to oppose the clearance plan, calling it bad for the country and the climate. Climate hawks such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, along with dozens of House members, say the authorization plan should be left out of the unavoidable spending bill.
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Many Republicans agree. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, called the clearance deal a “political gain” for Manchin, whose vote on the climate bill was crucial to passing the bill. the law.
Manchin’s climate actions — including secret negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. — “bred a lot of bad blood” among Republicans, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters. “There’s not a lot of sympathy on our side to offer a reward to Senator Manchin.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, Manchin expressed bewilderment at such sentiment, saying he had “never seen” such an example of “revenge politics”, with Sanders and “the liberal far left siding on the side of the Republican leaders” to oppose his plan.
“It’s revenge on one person – me,” Manchin said.
“I hear the Republican leadership is upset,” he added. “They won’t give Joe Manchin the win. Well, Joe Manchin isn’t looking for the win.
Responding Tuesday on Twitter, Sanders was defiant.
“Undoing the side deal with Big Oil is not about revenge,” he said. “It’s about whether we will stand with the 650 environmental and civil rights organizations who understand that the future of the planet lies in renewable energy and energy efficiency who do not endorse the pipeline of Mountain Valley”, a near-complete natural gas pipeline from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia. Manchin’s plan would expedite the pipeline and direct the legal challenges to another federal court.
Although the legislative text of his permitting plan has not been made public, Manchin called the bill “extremely balanced good legislation” and does not “bypass any environmental review”. Instead, it would speed up a timeframe that can take up to 10 years for a major project to get approval.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., released a similar plan that would speed up environmental permits, but Manchin said her plan should have broader appeal because it would streamline environmental reviews of renewable energy projects as well as fossil fuels. Manchin’s plan has support from Biden and other Democratic leaders.
But a letter signed by more than 70 House Democrats calls the proposal a “a dirty side deal negotiated behind closed doors, outside of the proper government process and from the perspective of our families and communities on whom this will have a profound impact. ”
If passed, “this agreement will only make it easier for the fossil fuel industry to plant polluting projects in our communities and perpetuate the industry’s practice of concentrating destructive pollution projects in the communities of color and poor communities,” says the letter, led by Raul Grijalva, president of the Arizona Chamber of Natural Resources.
The rift between Democrats could complicate the party’s efforts to keep the focus on key legislative wins this summer – including the climate bill and a separate law to boost the semiconductor industry and create more high-tech jobs in the United States — heads into midterm elections to determine which party controls the House and Senate.
More immediately, the rift tests the ability of Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep enough Democrats in line to avoid a partial government shutdown at the end of the month.
Schumer said he would attach Manchin’s proposal to the interim funding bill, a promise Manchin said on Tuesday he expects Schumer to keep.
The authorization plan “is going to be in the” funding bill to avoid a government shutdown on Sept. 30, Manchin said. If opponents are ready to shut down the government “because of a personal attack on me, that’s what makes people sick of politics,” he added. “It makes me sick about this.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., did not respond directly when asked if Manchin’s leave proposal would make it harder to pass the government’s funding bill. government, known as continuous resolution.
“We’re going to pass the CR, and we’re going to be here as long as it takes,” Hoyer said Tuesday.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.
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