Manchin Takes Fellow Dems to Task on Energy

Manchin Takes Fellow Dems to Task on Energy
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Sen. Joe Manchin, speaking at a forum on U.S. energy policy sponsored by RealClearPolitics and America's Power, challenged his own party on a range of energy-related issues Wednesday.

The West Virginia lawmaker warned that if the Obama administration failed to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, fellow Democrats could face electoral consequences in the upcoming midterm elections.

“It makes it harder for a Democrat to defend some of the Washington Democrat’s agenda,” Manchin said, adding that President Obama’s delay in deciding the pipeline’s fate “just doesn’t make any sense, none at all.”

“This has truly, strong bipartisan support in the Senate and in the House. … And why the president and the administration [are] hunkered down and not moving forward is beyond my understanding.”

He also criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for failing to call a vote on EPA regulation reforms that Manchin sponsored with Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield.

“I’m trying to get Harry to look at the hard-rock mining. … If there’s going to be fairness in this country, let’s look at mining across the board,” complained Manchin, whose state is home to coal mining operations that are subject to tough government oversight. “When was the last time you saw new regulations in hard-rock mining? The 1800s?”

The event was moderated by RCP Washington Bureau Chief Carl Cannon. He asked Manchin, who will join fellow Democratic senators at the White House this evening, what he would ask President Obama at the gathering. “Why aren’t the Republicans here too? That would be the first question I would ask,” he replied. “I’m with my Democrats all the time.”

The former governor’s remarks were preceded by a heated debate among a panel of energy experts about facets of the administration’s energy policy, from oil exports to the Keystone pipeline.

Speakers included Ross Eisenberg, vice president of energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers; Daniel Kish of the Institute for Energy Research; William Yeatman, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute; and Peter Ogden, director of international energy and climate policy at the Center for American Progress.

That discussion was preceded by brief remarks from former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, now president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, who blasted the administration’s position on several energy issues.

On a lighter note, Cannon, a San Francisco native, also asked Manchin to predict the outcome of Sunday’s Seahawks-49ers NFL playoff game. After Manchin said he believed the Seahawks would eliminate the Niners, Cannon deadpanned, “I always liked you too.” 

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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