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Manchin says he will oppose all EPA nominees

Cites Biden administration's 'radical climate agenda'

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the Biden administration "has made it clear they are hellbent on doing everything in their power to regulate coal- and gas-fueled power plants out of existence."
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the Biden administration "has made it clear they are hellbent on doing everything in their power to regulate coal- and gas-fueled power plants out of existence." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Joe Manchin III vowed to oppose all EPA nominees who need confirmation, citing his displeasure over a greenhouse gas emissions rule for power plants that the agency is expected to announce Thursday.

The West Virginia Democrat said the Biden administration is pursuing a “radical climate agenda” regarding power plants, the second-largest source of emissions in the country, behind transportation.

“This administration is determined to advance its radical climate agenda and has made it clear they are hellbent on doing everything in their power to regulate coal- and gas-fueled power plants out of existence, no matter the cost to energy security and reliability,” Manchin said. 

Citing testimony last week from members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Manchin said the power grids in the U.S. are at risk of becoming unreliable.

“I fear that this administration’s commitment to their extreme ideology overshadows their responsibility to ensure long-lasting energy and economic security,” he said.

The threat is Manchin’s latest attack on the Biden administration’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. Manchin, who is up for reelection in a state with historic ties to coal and that reliably favors Republicans, is consistently a top recipient of contributions from the fossil fuel industry. 

Although Manchin leads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with jurisdiction over the departments of Energy and Interior, EPA nominees go through the Environment and Public Works Committee, where Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., is chairman. Two open EPA positions require Senate confirmation: assistant administrator for mission support and assistant administrator for land and emergency management.

As for his own committee, Manchin last year declined to hold a hearing on the renomination Richard Glick, the former chairman of FERC, whose term expired at the end of 2022. Manchin said he was “not comfortable” doing so. 

Last week, Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote with Senate Republicans to erase an Interior Department rule protecting the lesser prairie chicken, a grouse of the Great Plains.

He was also the only Senate Democrat to vote two weeks ago to repeal an EPA regulation on smog-creating emissions from large trucks. And he voted also to nullify a Biden administration regulation, written by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to expand federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

Mark Christie, a Republican FERC commissioner, said last week before Manchin’s committee that the addition of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources was not making the U.S. electric grids unstable.

“The problem is the subtraction of dispatchable resources such as coal and gas,” Christie said, referring to plants that can rapidly supplement generation during peak consumption periods.

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