MORGANTOWN — State Senate Energy chair Randy Smith plans to invite U.S. Senate Energy chair Joe Manchin to come before the Legislature to explain his vote on the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Sen. Manchin has always said he can’t vote for a bill unless he feels like he can go back home and explain why, ” Smith, R-Tucker, said in a Monday release. “That’s all we’re asking for with this visit. We’d like the chance to hear directly from him and allow him the opportunity to talk to us face to face about why he voted the way he did.”
Smith wants Manchin to come before the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, which will meet during September and November interims.
“I’ve seen numerous interviews where he said that the Inflation Reduction Act wasn’t a ‘red’ bill or a ‘blue’ bill, but it was a ‘red, white and blue’ bill, ” Smith said. “Well, my fear is that his yes vote on this bill is going to leave West Virginia and all of its hard-working coal miners and their families black and blue, and I think we need to have an honest conversation about that.”
Smith said he has spoken to several members of the Legislature who are disappointed in Manchin for joining with Democratic leaders on a compromise that Smith said will devastate West Virginia’s coal industry.
“Not one time in the last three months did Sen. Manchin ever reach out to me, our committee, or other members of the Legislature for our input, ideas, or concerns, ” Smith said. “Instead, he worked with Democrats in Congress behind closed doors to work out a compromise. It makes us feel like Sen. Manchin is more concerned about his colleagues in Washington than he is with his constituents in West Virginia.”
Asked about Smith’s invitation, a Manchin spokesperson said, “Sen. Manchin has always had West Virginia’s best interest in mind and the Inflation Reduction Act delivers for West Virginians by lowering prescription drug and healthcare costs, addressing high energy prices by increasing domestic energy production and permanently extending the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.”
Smith said he is working to schedule this meeting as soon as possible. A meeting date and time will be announced as soon as it is available.
Manchin has several times described the advantages he sees for West Virginia in the IRA. He said that along with increasing energy production and permanently extending the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, it will include:
— nearly $10 billion in incentives to directly support the coal and natural gas industry, including $5 billion for energy infrastructure reinvestment loan guarantees to help existing coal and natural gas plants upgrade, to support up to $250 billion in loan guarantees ;
— a carbon capture, utilization and sequestration tax credit and direct pay for the first five years to help fossil plants ;
— $1.55 billion to support natural gas companies’ efforts to deploy new technologies to continue driving down methane emissions, including $700 million reserved for marginal conventional wells ;
— an investment tax credit for clean energy manufacturers, with $4 billion reserved for use exclusively in coal communities impacted by the downturn in the coal sector ;
— a hydrogen production tax credit, worth nearly $8 billion over the next decade, to help create a multi-billion-dollar hydrogen hub in West Virginia.
Manchin also said he’s secured a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Biden that a permitting package will be passed by the end of the fiscal year (Sept 30) and part of that is the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The four GOP members of West Virginia’s D.C. delegation all voted against the IRA. During the Senate vote-a-rama where various amendments were considered before passage of the bill, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito introduced one to include permitting reform in the bill, instead of waiting until September.
That amendment failed and after the vote Capito expressed skepticism about passage of a bill in coming weeks. “The fact of the matter is that with 60 votes, meaningful reforms to expedite projects and block Biden administration actions that will slow down development could have been added to this bill tonight. After voting to stop permitting reform tonight, it is even harder to believe that Democrats will join us to enact it next month.”
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