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Ties That Bind: Joe Manchin’s Steady Flow of Support from Oil, Gas and Coal | United States Congress

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In the tumult of negotiations over the most momentous climate legislation ever proposed in the US, there is growing scrutiny of the fossil fuel industry’s connections from the man who is poised to tear down the core of the bill: Senator. from West Virginia Joe Manchin.

Manchin, a centrist Democrat, has opposed key provisions of a multi-million dollar reconciliation bill that would cut global warming emissions and help the United States and the world avoid a catastrophic climate collapse. In a finely balanced Senate, Democrats need all 50 senators to vote on the bill, with no Republican willing to vote for climate measures.

The legislation would steadily retire the coal industry that once formed the backbone of West Virginia’s economy and continues to provide broad financial support to Manchin, who has spent the past four decades as a political heavyweight in his home state of Appalachians, even acting as its secretary. of state, governor and now senator of the United States.

Chart showing Joe Manchin has received the largest donations across multiple energy sectors

In today’s electric cycle, Manchin has received more in political donations from the oil and gas industry than any other senator, more than double the second-largest recipient. It is also the number one recipient of donations from the coal mining sector, leads the way in money accepted from pipeline operators and ranks sixth in the ranking of senatorial donations from power companies.

This industry generosity has led to accusations that the senator has been improperly influenced by companies that have helped fuel the climate crisis. Manchin’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

But Manchin’s ties to the fossil fuel industry run deeper than political donations. After initially working in his family’s furniture and carpet business, Manchin established a coal brokerage company called Enersystems in 1988, and ran it until he became a full-time politician.

Most of Manchin’s assets are held in shares in a coal brokerage company.

Despite handing over control of Enersystems to his son Joseph, Manchin’s ties to the business have been fruitful for the senator. His shares in Enersystems are worth between $ 1 million and $ 5 million, according to his latest financial disclosure. document, with the senator receiving more than $ 5 million in dividend income from the company over the past decade. The coal brokerage It represents 71% of Manchin’s investment income and approximately one-third of his total net worth.

The reconciliation bill contains a huge expansion in fiscal support for clean energy and electric vehicles and new restrictions on methane, a potent greenhouse gas, but the core of the climate measures is something called the Electricity Performance Program. Clean (CEPP). The $ 150 billion scheme would use payments and fines to spur utilities to phase out fossil fuels from the US electrical system over the next decade.

The program, along with the clean energy tax credits, “is the best opportunity we’ve had in a generation to drive the transition to clean energy and reduce fossil fuel pollution in underserved communities,” said Patrick Drupp, deputy legislative director of the Sierra Club. .

Manchin has called the bill’s spending “reckless” and said it “doesn’t make sense” to pay utilities to increase their share of renewable energy when they are already doing so. This is despite the fact that barely profits Across the United States they are adding solar, wind and other clean energy sources at the pace envisaged by the bill to force emissions reductions fast enough to prevent a climate disaster.

“Your statement on this is demonstrably false. Utilities are not growing renewables that fast, certainly not in West Virginia, ”said Robbie Orvis, senior director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation. “It is not a secret that he has ties to the coal industry. You would expect that anyone elected to Congress would not have significant financial stakes in industries that they would consider regulating, but that’s the system we have, unfortunately. “

Recent Energy Innovation analysis found that CEPP is the “carbon reduction hub” of the legislation, accounting for about a third of the emission cuts that would result from the bill. “It’s really unfortunate that CEPP is no longer on the table,” Orvis said. “But this bill would still result in a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, long ago. There may be a way to fill in the gaps left by CEPP. “

Projected emission reductions from Build Back Better programs by 2030

Joe Biden has set a goal for the US to cut global warming emissions by the middle of this decade, before reducing them to zero by 2050. Currently, the US is on track for a 17% reduction to 25% in emissions by 2030, an analysis Posted Tuesday by Rhodium Group found, leaving up to 2.3 tons of emissions to be eliminated to meet the goal.

John Larsen, director of the Rhodium Group, said that with more cuts from the federal government and states, “America’s ambitious 2030 climate goal is within reach, even with a more limited policy package from Congress.” But he added: “The United States and the world have little time or room for error to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

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