Joe Manchin to decide the fate of the planet?
Scary stuff: Today, there are a spate of articles about West Virginia’s compromised senator and there is not much optimism to be found in any of them
For background, this is Coral Davenport’s Sunday analysis in the New York Times:
This Powerful Democrat Linked to Fossil Fuels Will Craft the U.S. Climate Plan
Joe Manchin, the powerful West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate energy panel and earned half a million dollars last year from coal production, is preparing to remake President Biden’s climate legislation in a way that tosses a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry — despite urgent calls from scientists that countries need to quickly pivot away from coal, gas and oil to avoid a climate catastrophe.
From earlier today, here is Kate Aronoff in The New Republic:
Follow the Money Into Joe Manchin’s Pockets
She states what has recently become obviously:
Despite all the armchair psychology, the best evidence we have suggests that Manchin tends often to act as a vessel for his considerable financial interests in the fossil fuel industry.
Aronoff then looks into some of them.
Also, today, investigative reporters Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria followed the money in Popular Information:
The Manchin Industry
The reporters begin by explaining Manchin’s importance:
Ultimately though, it will be members of Congress, not the Biden administration, that will author the climate-related portions of the reconciliation bill. And the person with the pen is Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Manchin, the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is reportedly planning to "remake President Biden’s climate legislation in a way that tosses a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry."
While Manchin has acknowledged that fossil fuels contribute to climate change, he is planning to craft the climate portion of the reconciliation bill to "protect and extend the use of coal and natural gas."
The investigative piece looks at Manchin’s involvement in the coal industry, his fund raising from fossil fuel trade organizations, and then it presents a new wrinkle in understanding Manchin’s motivations -- where his former staff have ended up:
Manchin will have plenty of help from a phalanx of former staffers who are paid to represent the fossil fuel and energy industry.
A Popular Information review of the Senate Lobbying Database found that six former Manchin staffers are currently listed on 15 lobbying contracts with fossil fuel and energy companies. Collectively, these contracts are worth $2.4 million per year.
Paul Krugman, in today’s New York Times, continues:
So Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will be responsible for putting together the Democratic climate plan. This is both understandable and terrifying. . . .
The best-case scenario is that Manchin will intervene in ways that help coal miners and highlight his independence without doing too much damage to Biden’s objectives. The worst-case scenario is that he will cripple the climate initiative and effectively doom the planet — because the president’s climate push is almost certainly our last chance to avoid disaster.
Krugman also documents the declining role that coal plays in West Virginia’s economy (something you wouldn’t know if our local Ogden paper is your most important source of information).
Finally, from the Davenport article:
In May, the world’s leading energy agency said nations must immediately stop approving new coal-fired power plants and new oil and gas fields, and quickly phase out gasoline-powered vehicles to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
Not many are hearing that plea; perhaps, least of all, Senator Manchin.
Update -- Republicans have Manchin "nailed down"
I realize this does not deal with climate change but this tweet about how the Republicans see Manchin keeps popping up:
In Waukon, Iowa, Sen. Grassley tells constituents he’s confident Sen. Manchin will hold out against supporting Dems’ sweeping ethics/voting rights reform— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) May 4, 2021
“We think we’ve got him nailed down” pic.twitter.com/1It0X0rViP