Senate Democratic Leader Joe Manchin Announces Support for Democratic Climate Legislation

After bipartisan rebuff, Manchin abandons private legislative deal to help fossil fuel projects

As a first step in making an official, private legislative climate bill come to pass, Senate Democratic leader Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that he would be supporting Democratic climate legislation. Manchin was originally the only Democrat to join the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, a group of eight senators committed to climate action. He was able to join the caucus as the caucus made the difficult decision to remove climate skepticism from a previously announced Senate climate plan, one that was a compromise between a bipartisan group of climate experts and some Senate Democrats. But because of his position as the Senate Democratic leader and as a former Senate leader and longtime legislator who served as governor of West Virginia, Manchin became a “key player” in Democratic climate efforts. He was instrumental in making West Virginia a leader in the fight against climate inaction and had previously worked on Democratic climate efforts in the U.S. House. Manchin has also had a long and fruitful relationship with the coal industry. He has represented the coal industry throughout his career, most notably in supporting the West Virginia coal industry in opposing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in the 1990s. It was during his time as governor that Manchin also introduced the idea of transitioning to 100 percent coal-generated electricity. In 2015, Manchin was one of two Senate Democratic leaders who released a “Cap-and-Trade climate plan” in an attempt to build support for a carbon tax. In 2018, he opposed an effort by West Virginia representatives to pass an expansion of access to federal clean water programs, a move which would have provided funding for water infrastructure in coal country.

Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) announcement that he will sign onto the Climate Solutions Caucus’ “clean energy and health care package” is, at a minimum, a signal that the once mighty Democratic “super” body is ready to make an official

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