Senator Joe Manchin (D.W.Va.), has been involved in politics since 1982 so he is well-versed in the art of wheeling and dealing. Manchin was sitting comfortably, holding the fate of the entire Democratic Party in his hands because it was his vote which was essential to Joe Biden’s agenda.
Chuck Schumer, Democratic Majority Leader, persistently pursued Manchin’s vote for the “Inflation Reduction Act”, but he didn’t arrive empty-handed at the negotiations. Schumer arrived at the table with gifts — gifts that Manchin could not refuse.
Schumer and Manchin crafted a “side deal” that gave Manchin a big, fat, plum while giving Joe Biden a huge legislative victory just when he needed it. The deal was Schumer’s promise to support an overhaul of the nation’s process for approving new energy projects, including expediting a gas pipeline proposed for West Virginia — the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).
It’s a huge departure from the norm for the Biden administration, which is making big deals about climate change provisions in its anti-inflation package. Manchin was able to streamline the approval process for oil and gas projects, something Republicans had supported in the past. Meanwhile, Biden’s stock in Democratic Party soared.
According to Senator Manchin’s Office, President Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi have committed to passing legislation to complete the MVP and “streamline the permitting procedure for all energy infrastructure.”
Manchin’s office claims it will be voted upon by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2022.
It states that the MVP is 94% complete, and will “[unlock] 2,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas every day.”
Manchin’s team claims $1.2 billion will go to additional investment in the project. It will take approximately four to five months for it to be completed. Around 2,500 construction-related job opportunities will be utilized. $40 million annually will be generated in West Virginia’s new tax revenue. WV landowners will receive $200 to $250 million more in royalties each year.
However, all is not sunshine and strawberries. Already, there are rumblings that the radical greens in Congress might repeal the “permitting legislation” for new energy projects. The GOP’s assent is far from certain.
Initial reactions to the details of this agreement were mixed. Christy Goldfuss is the senior vice president for environment and energy policy at the Center for American Progress. This center-left think tank pointed out that the agreement does not avoid the need to gather information about the potential impacts of projects. Therefore, it could reduce their environmental impact. She pointed out that the larger energy package also includes additional funding to agencies for reviewing new energy projects.
Both in private and public talks, Manchin made it clear that approving Mountain Valley Pipeline is a top priority. It is being viewed by supporters as a way to make the United States an exporter of liquefied natural gases, which will help Europe in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine.
Manchin’s surrender to Biden was not surprising. On numerous occasions, he had made it clear that he saw his role as a Democratic senator in supporting Biden’s success. He also stated that he would not change parties, regardless of how threatened he was by the Democrats.
He’s now a major hero on the Left — until the next big issue occurs in which he will block Biden and his fellow Democrats.