Joe manchin climate change

Peter Dykstra: Joe the Bummer

No, not President Joe. Senator Joe Manchin holds all the climate cards in Congress. How did that happen?

When the Democrats gained their razor-thin control of the Senate, they made Senior Senator Joe Manchin Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.


Yes, the party that would fix the climate handed the keys over to Captain Coal.

Which is why it should not be a surprise to any sentient being that Manchin, not the Republicans, is President Biden's biggest obstacle to an infrastructure plan that aggressively pursues clean energy.

Climate change negotiating points 

When Manchin, then West Virginia Governor, ran to fill the unexpired term of the expired Robert Senator Robert Byrd in 2010, he famously aired an ad in which he literally shot a hole in a copy of a cap-and-trade emissions bill then under consideration.

Not quite a full-fledged climate denier, Manchin chose an interesting tack this year, joining with coal state Republican John Barrasso in urging President Biden to tackle the real climate killer: trees. Better forest management, they said in a June letter to the White House, could go a long way to curing our climate.

It's more bothersome that the climate and clean energy funds in the massive $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill may be there only as expendable negotiating points. So too, some say, are funds to correct the disgraceful state of lead in drinking water pipes.

West Virginia's Big Coal politics 

To understand Joe Manchin's role in all this requires a deeper dive into West Virginia politics. When Republican Shelley Moore Capito won her House seat in 2011, she broke a Democratic monopoly on West Virginia House seats. Now, all of the state's congresspeople are Republican.

With a lifetime 17% score on the League of Conservation Voters' National Environmental scorecard, Capito is middle-of-the-pack for Republicans. Manchin's 54% score puts him at the bottom of the Dems' pond. Both have been outspoken on PFAS contamination, since Parkersburg, West Virginia, is one of the nation's PFAS hotspots.

The state's current governor is quite literally larger than life. At six-feet seven and a lot of weight, Jim Justice is the state's only billionaire. You'll never guess how he made his money (coal!). Like Manchin and others, he's not convinced on all that climate science stuff.

In 2016, Justice switched parties, from Republican to Democrat, and won the governor's seat handily. He promptly switched back to the GOP. And in 2020, won reelection by a nearly two-to-one margin.

Have you figured out West Virginia politics yet?

Neither have I. Other than the permanent servility to Big Coal, there doesn't seem to be any.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo: Sen. Joe Manchin (left) speaks to Navy Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday, director of the Joint Staff. (Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

solar power schools

Solar power at Pennsylvania schools doubled during the pandemic

“If this growth continues, schools could set Pennsylvania up as a clean energy leader and not just the fossil fuels we’re known for.”

NORTH BRADDOCK, Penn.—On Wednesday evening, 10th grader Abby Wypych stood in front of Woodland Hills School District’s board and urged them to approve a feasibility study on installing solar panels.

Keep reading...Show less
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Pennsylvania’s top environmental regulator to step down

Pennsylvania’s top environmental regulator is stepping down. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell oversaw the state’s effort to join a climate program targeting power plant emissions.

New Coalition MP was founding member of club promoting climate science denial

The new federal MP for the Queensland seat of Flynn was a founding member of a club formed to promote climate science denial, and was a signatory to an international statement claiming “there is no climate emergency”.

‘It seems this heat will take our lives’: Pakistan city fearful after hitting 51C

Muhammad Akbar, 40, sells dried chickpeas on a wheelbarrow in Jacobabad, and has suffered heatstroke three times in his life. But now, he says, the heat is getting worse.

Clean energy faces its latest test: Rising interest rates

Clean energy has managed to grow during a global pandemic, a hostile presidential administration and fierce competition from fossil fuels. Now, it faces the prospect of battling rising interest rates and a potential recession.

Texas could have foreseen 2021 cold-wave disaster, new study concludes

A warming climate hasn’t erased the risk of cold extremes, and the Texas power grid wasn’t prepared for the frigid blast that blanketed the state in February 2021. Will it be ready for the next one?

Aclima study shows Bay Area minorities breathe dirtier air

Finding the most polluted places in the San Francisco Bay area is simple, a new air quality analysis shows: Locate places where mostly Black, Latino, Asian and low-income residents live, and pay them a visit.

From our Newsroom
roe v. wade

Derrick Z. Jackson: Roe v. Wade draft bodes ill for air, wetlands and the EPA

Justice Alito’s longstanding consistency in wanting to restrict EPA authority makes it transparent where he wants the court to go.

environmental justice

Op-Ed: Black gold and the color line

How historical racist redlining practices are linked to higher exposures to oil and gas wells.

Our mothers' gifts: Readers respond

Our mothers' gifts: Readers respond

We asked you to share one "big lesson" your mother gave. And you responded

Lake Mead

Dykstra: A corpse in a barrel in a drying reservoir

And other climate change tales for our age

A mother's gift

Gifts from our mothers

What one "big gift" did your mother give you? We want your story.

Bird photography

Earth Day 2022: Amidst the crises, don’t forget the beauty

Words and images from our founder, Pete Myers, on how bird photography keeps him connected to and curious about a planet in peril.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.