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Good News!? ‘The senator who once put a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill for a campaign ad’ — West VA Sen. Manchin to lead Senate Energy & Natural Resources Cmte

The senator who once put a bullet through the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill for a campaign ad will become an even more important gatekeeper on climate change this year.

West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin will take over the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as soon as next week as his party promises to push increasingly ambitious ideas against global warming.

Manchin helped pass three bipartisan energy and public lands bills in the last Congress with outgoing Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The ENR Committee achieved bipartisan success, even as Capitol Hill devolved into further partisan gridlock.

“We did a lot, but there is still a lot in energy we want to get done,” Manchin said in an interview with E&E News yesterday.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a letter to colleagues this week, promised “bold legislation to defeat the climate crisis by investing in clean infrastructure and manufacturing.”

At the center of those discussions is Manchin, a longtime defender of his state’s coal industry and an “all of the above” energy strategy, who has also worked to make inroads with environmentalists.

Manchin spoke with E&E News about his vision for the committee, including his views on clean energy standard legislation and taking care of communities displaced by climate rules.

You can’t be aspirational and set targets when the technology has not even been developed or proven. So we are looking for a commonsense process.

That sounds like you are open to the idea of a clean energy standard?

Oh, yeah, we are open to everything on that. The bottom line is, though, when you are doing the things we are doing, you have to do it in a way that you don’t create one vast economic depression on the price of coal because another one has opened up with opportunities.

A number of investor-owned utilities are setting a net-zero, carbon-free or similar goals by 2050 or sooner on their own. These carbon reduction goals may be more achievable than we realized. Things are moving at warp speed. They really are.

Let me make sure you understand where I am coming from. I am an all-in energy person. I want to use all the resources we have. My first and foremost thing on this Energy Committee is to do everything I can to maintain energy independence in the United States of America.

And then we can show the world how to clean up the climate by using them with the technology that we can be developing and innovation technology that needs to be done. I think the bill we passed in the omnibus bill is a tremendous step in that investment. That’s the way we should be going.

The first item on your agenda is going to be these nominations. What is your first impression? How quickly can you move them? Are you at all worried about Republican opposition?

I think Joe Biden understands that there is going to be fracking in this country if we are to be energy independent, and there is a better, cleaner way of doing it. We have to capture the methane. We shouldn’t just sit back and say it’s acceptable.