15
Sat, Jun

It’s Time to Put a Big Block of Coal in Joe Manchin’s Christmas Stocking

VOICES

ACCORDING TO LIZ - What not to give Joe Manchin for Xmas: A pass to destroy the EPA and allow fossil fuel corporations to wreak havoc across the land. 

Just because Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden pinky swore to push Senator Joe Manchin’s environmentally eviscerating permitting reform through in return for his grudging acceptance of a very cut-down version of the Inflation Reduction Act does not mean that we-the-people and our elected representatives should tolerate this. Ever. 

In fact we must full-on fight it. 

People, call your Senators and insist Manchin’s permitting reform never sees the light of day, and that all Americans are counting on them to ensure a cleaner future. 

Insist they refuse to allow Manchin to attach it to any must-pass bill. And, if attached, refuse to vote for such bill, no matter the consequences, until such a poisonous provision is stripped from the legislation. 

So far, enough Senators have listened to their constituents to the point that this side-deal payback to Manchin, has bounced from bill to bill since July. 

But the West Virginia senator continues to try to force his permitting reform provisions through the Senate. His last attempt, most recently to attach it to the defense bill, was shot down last Thursday. 

At which point, Manchin criticized his own constituents as being radicals for opposing “his” pipeline and claimed toxic tribal politics in Washington was the real reason his “commonsense” permitting resolution was removed from the defense bill. 

His next target will be Biden’s budget bill reportedly still stuck in the Senate Appropriations Committee because Republicans refuse to support $12 billion to fight child poverty. This, despite increasing the Pentagon’s budget by $45 million when they approved $858 billion in military spending. 

So, if not on the full omnibus spending bill, then Manchin will target the next extension of the continuing resolution to keep the government fiscally operational into the coming year. 

The first continuing resolution, agreed to last September to keep the government solvent until the passage of the full fiscal year 2023 budget, would have expired on December16th and triggered a government shutdown deadline. Last Wednesday, the House approved a one-week extension giving Congress an additional week to finish negotiating critical funding decisions and was confirmed by the Senate the next day. 

Three times in the past decade – in 2014, 2018, and 2019 – no continuing resolution was approved, resulting in a shutdown. 

Shutdowns are never good, disrupting everyone as federal departments pivot to addressing the shutdown instead of doing their regular jobs. Additional ramifications can range from the furloughing of hundreds of thousands of government workers to putting benefits for seniors and veterans at risk, closing our national parks, impacting pensions, healthcare, education, and cutting off nutritional supplements for young children. 

Although critical areas such as food inspection, the postal service and air traffic control would be staffed, businesses that serve everyone else will have fewer customers. Bills would not be paid. And the US could default on debt payments which could affect its credit-worthiness, and cost the country tens of billions of dollars. 

This tap-dancing gives the incoming Republican House more leverage on what to cut from Biden’s proposed budget. There is pressure all around with many special interests clamoring to maintain their piece of the pie. 

Yes, Schumer’s promise enabled the August passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which contained hundreds of billions of dollars aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and growing clean energy jobs. And provided huge investments in renewable energy and grid energy storage, tax incentives to boost electric vehicles, billions of dollars for home energy efficiency upgrades, and many other provisions that will help to cut climate-wrecking pollution 

And for his out-sized leverage in clawing back legislation aimed at helping women and families (universal pre-kindergarten, lower child care costs, paid family and sick leave and the enhanced child tax credit) and other critical services, Manchin got to introduce the bill as the Manchin Inflation Reduction Act. 

But that wasn’t enough for him. He wants it all, and now he wants it for Christmas. 

His “permitting reform is in no-one’s best interest… other than the oil and coal barons. With Manchin being one of the latter. 

Millions, especially those living on the lands it would destroy, strongly oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline and it is in this deal solely to remove it from the local courts that have sided time and again with West Virginians. Beyond the immediate ecological damages, once gas begins to flow, the ports and related ancillary projects as well the ultimate end users will exacerbate the existing serious problems surrounding global warming. 

But Manchin has Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (who negotiated this unholy deal) and Biden on his side as “a way to cut Americans’ energy bills, promote US energy security, and boost our ability to get energy projects built and connected.”  

In August, 650 organizations wrote to Schumer in reference what has now become Manchin’s Christmas list: “This fossil fuel wish list is a cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities and the climate. This legislation would truncate and hollow-out the environmental review process, weaken Tribal consultations, and make it far harder for frontline communities to have their voices heard by gutting bedrock protections in the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act.” 

They are not alone. 

It's essential that the Senate not now and not ever hamstring the authority of federal and state agencies charged with using their power to protect people and the planet from the negative impacts of Big Oil and Big Coal. We need MORE protections, not less. 

And that all members of the House and Senate categorically refuse to gut ANY environmental provisions that ensure Americans have clean air, clean water, healthy food, and good health, especially in communities of color, Indigenous, and low-income in all areas of the country that have suffered disproportionately from pollution and climate change. 

No member of the House or Senate, nor should Joe Biden, have the right to constrain the authority of federal and state agencies charged with protecting people and the planet from the negative impact of Big Oil and Coal and, especially, the resultant increases in global warming. 

Furthermore all members of the House and Senate must refuse to gut ANY environmental provisions that protect Americans’ air, clean water, food, and health, especially for frontline communities. 

Take a good look at the unholy three, all old white men, not terribly representative of the country they presume to rule, and their corporatist leanings make them closer to the Republicans of a generation ago than to majority of Dem voters. 

Schumer and Manchin both received large donations from a major utility giant and from pipeline firms that would benefit from passage of this – that is bribery and if it wasn't important to maintain a Senate majority to confirm reasonable judge appointees across the country, both should be drummed out of government. 

No-one, least of all his own constituents owes their senior senator anything. He has categorically proven himself totally unworthy of the voters trust. 

Manchin wants coal? Let’s give him a stocking-full and stop his permitting resolution once and for all time. 

Because that would be the best gift anyone could offer the people of West Virginia. 

(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)