TOs “thousand year” heat waves caused by the climate crisis rocking the west coast and biblical floods taking over major cities, Senate Democrats are negotiating a $ 3.5 trillion budget package that could include an attempt to slow fossil fuel use over the next decade.
A prominent senator is very concerned about proposals to reduce the use of oil, gas and coal. The recently argument that those who want to “get rid of” fossil fuels are wrong. Eliminating fossil fuels will not help fight global warming, he claimed, against all evidence. “If anything, it would be worse.”
Which right-wing Republican spoke these fake, Words that deny the climate crisis?
Wrong question. The speaker was a Democrat: Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
West Virginia is a major coal-producing state. But Manchin’s investment in dirty energy goes far beyond the financial interests of the voters who elect him every six years. In fact, coal has made Manchin and his family very wealthy. He founded the private coal brokerage Enersystems in 1988 and still owns a large stake in the company, which his son currently runs.
In 2020 alone, Manchin raised nearly $ 500,000 of revenue from Enersystems, and owns as much as $ 5 million in company stock, according to his most recent financial disclosure.
Despite this conflict of interest, Manchin chairs the Senate’s influential energy and natural resources committee, which has jurisdiction over coal production and distribution, coal research and development, and coal conversion, as well as the “exchange global climate ”.
He even delivered a pro-coal speech in May at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) while personally profiting from Enersystems coal sales to utility companies that are EEI members, such as Mud recently reported.
Manchin is one of many members of Congress who are personally invested in the fossil fuel industry (dozens of members of Congress own Exxon stock), but he is among the biggest benefits. At the end of 2019, he had more money invested in dirty energy than any other senator.
How can this be? Wouldn’t basic ethics prevent someone from being in charge of legislation that could materially benefit them? Unfortunately, the conflict of interest rules in the Senate are remarkably weak. And guess who is looking to remove conflict of interest rules from a 2021 democratic reform bill?
His proposal “omits the language that S 1 would add to the federal statute that prohibits legislators from working on bills primarily to advance their financial interests,” Sludge reported.
Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, has used the evenly divided chamber to block Joe Biden’s agenda. In the process, he has become arguably the most powerful person in Washington. Almost no Democratic legislation can pass without your vote.
That’s a problem, especially since Manchin sometimes looks like an honorary Republican. Earlier this month, the Texas Tribune and other publications reported that Manchin was heading to Texas for a fundraiser. organized by several major Republican donorsincluding oil billionaires.
Manchin, along with Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, has vowed to protect obstructionism, a rule often used to empower white supremacistsThat requires 60 votes for most Senate bills to pass. That includes vital legislation on the right to vote, passed by the House, which is the only way to prevent the Republican Party from destroying what is left of our democracy in the name of the “big lie” of electoral fraud.
Due to his exceptionally powerful position as a decisive vote, Manchin can rewrite important laws to his liking, effectively dictating the legislative agendas of Congress and the White House.
It appears Manchin will get away with the White House infrastructure package as well, and his changes will likely be more devastating given the climate emergency we live in.
Manchin is not only defending the coal industry and his family’s generational wealth; it is following the orders of oil and gas executives, who can also lose money if the nation shifts away from toxic fuels.
Manchin’s political campaigns are driven by the dirty energy industry. During the last decade, his electoral campaigns have received almost $ 65,000 of disastrously dishonest lobbyists for the oil giant Exxon, its corporate political action committee, and the lobbying companies that Exxon works with. A prominent Exxon lobbyist recently boasted of his access to Manchin.
In the 2018 His most recent election cycle, Manchin’s campaign got more money from the Oil and Gas Pacs and their employees than any other Senate Democrat except then-North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Manchin was also the one in the mining industry. top Democratic catcher in Congress that cycle.
If Biden wants to have some kind of legacy, he must take on Manchin, a member of his own party, and work with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring it online. I don’t fully know why Biden allows West Virginia to dictate its own presidential policy agenda. But what is very clear is that the leader of the United States should be doing much more.
Alex Kotch is an investigative reporter and editor of the Center for Media and Democracy, a nationally recognized watchdog that leads award-winning investigations into corruption that undermines our democracy, the environment, and economic prosperity.
This article was written in collaboration with the Center for Media and Democracy
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism