Whether the Republicans have the oomph to take control of the Senate in January is an open question.
But at least on one issue, they seem to have the Senate’s most conservative Democrat in their corner.
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin refused to hold a hearing on the appointment of one of President Joe Biden’s chief climate-change advocates to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has power over electric utilities and natural gas pipelines.
According to The Washington Times, Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said on Thursday that he “was not comfortable holding a hearing” to confirm Richard Glick for another five-year term as FERC chairman.
Biden nominated Glick for a second term back in May. His term ends at the end of 2022 and minus him, the FERC faces a 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans.
As the Times noted, “The move [by Manchin] will undoubtedly receive cheers from the energy industry, which has viewed Mr. Glick’s reign as a roadblock to more domestic fossil fuel production, and criticism from environmental activists for leaving uncertain an ally who supports more stringent environmental regulations.”
Manchin, who represents one of America’s largest natural gas producers, was miffed that Glick and the other Democrats on the FERC chose to saddle the industry with additional environmental regulations for natural gas pipelines as gas producers sought to ramp up production to meet the demand created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the Times.
The news about Manchin’s refusal so far to green-light Glick, who was actually first appointed by former President Donald Trump, follows a weekend report whereby he lashed out at Biden for attacking the coal industry.
While campaigning in California last Friday, Biden said, “We’re going to be shutting these [coal] plants down all across America and having wind and solar also providing tax credit to help families buy energy-efficient appliances.”
In response, Manchin, who has longtime connections to the industry in coal-rich West Virginia, claimed Biden’s remarks were “not only outrageous and divorced from reality.”
“They ignore the severe economic pain the American people are feeling because of rising energy costs,” Manchin said.
“Comments like these are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden and instead believes he does not understand the need to have an all-in energy policy that would keep our nation totally energy independent and secure,” the senator added.
“It seems his positions change depending on the audience and the politics of the day. Politicizing our nation’s energy policies would only bring higher prices and more pain for the American people.”
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