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Author Topic: Fossil Fuels: Degraded Democracy and Profit Over Planet Pollution  (Read 31108 times)

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February 3, 2022

Joe Manchin is in Politics to Protect Joe Manchin’s Coal Business, Poisoning West Virginians While Raising Their Power Bills

In an ideal world, Joe Manchin’s decades-long dedication to preventing meaningful climate action would be driven by nothing more than service to the people of his state, West Virginia, and its reliance on coal. 

Safe to say though, this is not an ideal world. And as Scott Waldman meticulously details in a new investigation into🐀 Manchin’s political history, Manchin has time and again made political decisions that strictly benefit his own coal ash business, at the literal expense of West Virginians, who are left paying an additional hundred million dollars for power from a plant that pollutes their air and water. 

The examples are as numerous as they are damning, making it impossible to imagine Manchin will now suddenly start negotiating on Build Back Better with any sort of intention of passing meaningful climate policy. An impossibility even more clear after he declared the bill "dead" on Tuesday.

For example, one of Manchin’s last moves as governor of West Virginia was to push for the state’s clean energy bill to include waste coal (one of the most carbon-intensive fuels in the U.S.) as “alternative energy,” putting it on par with wind and solar. As a result, Manchin’s company could sell that waste, and Manchin would then pocket millions of dollars from his company selling waste coal to power plants. 

There’s just one power plant left burning the waste coal Manchin’s Enersystems Inc collects and sells, and Manchin made multiple moves to keep that Grant Town plant running, despite the fact that doing so required the utility company to jack up the prices for ratepayers- the people Manchin pretends to be protecting when opposing climate policy.

Back in 1995, Waldman reports, was “the first recorded incident of Manchin using his political position to treat the plant favorably,” when he “backed a measure that would give tax breaks to power plants in West Virginia that burned waste coal.” 

In 2006, as governor, Manchin’s appointee approved a rate hike to keep the Grant Town plant open by charging the state’s customers higher rates. “Those changes still reverberate today,” Waldman reports, as the state’s “loyalty for coal” is a factor in the state having “some of the highest electricity rate increases in the nation.”

Rates in the state have risen five times the national average, while others around it have instead fallen–in no small part because no politicians who make money off of burning dirty coal waste have propped up un-economical coal plants.

Later, when the Obama administration moved to regulate toxic coal ash, it likely would have closed the Grant Town plant Manchin also profits from by carting away the even dirtier discarded coal ash than what it trucked in. Naturally, Manchin helped spike the rule, and instead successfully pushed a bill that let states set their own standards, letting West Virginia set looser standards that allowed Manchin’s business to keep making him money, and “importantly, it also blocked an EPA rule finalized in 2015 that permitted states to sue other states with weak coal ash disposal standards.” This meant that now even other states couldn’t sue West Virginia to force it to clean up its coal standards, despite its pollution running into other states. 

Last year, Waldman notes, “Manchin crafted a bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes a provision to increase federal funding for clearing abandoned mine sites of waste coal and other contaminants — the type of work that’s performed by Enersystems. President Biden signed the legislation into law.” 

Manchin negotiated the bipartisan infrastructure bill on the premise that it was half of the Democratic package, with Build Back Better being the other half. As everyone should have expected, Manchin passed the bipartisan package that helped his business, and then found one flimsy excuse after another to avoid passing the BBB bill that would have actually done something to fight climate change (like reduce coal use). 

And now, yet again, Grant Town is, per Waldman, “warning again that it's facing dire financial circumstances,” and oddly, the utility it contracts with seems keen to keep it afloat despite the costs. “Grant Town’s financial struggles,” Waldman reports, “have cost FirstEnergy ratepayers an additional $117 million over the last five years,” and yet the company remains committed to keeping it online. 

Why? Well it turns out that the 🦖 utility company is “a top campaign 💵 contributor to a Manchin-affiliated political action committee,” and is lobbying Manchin on 😈 “seperate energy legislation.” Specifically, a bill “that steers money toward abandoned mine land cleanup, the type of work that Manchin’s family company is engaged in” and another that “would boost carbon capture for aging coal plants and allow them to operate longer.” 

Local Democratic lawmaker Nancy Peoples Guthrie 👍 told Waldman that “all you need to know about Joe Manchin” is that "everything that he does, everything that he did when he was governor, everything that he has done while he is a senator, is going to advance his best interest and the interest of the people who put money in his pocket, period.”

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matt 10:37


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