Joe Manchin’s Private Deal Met With Bipartisan Criticism

( Politicians on both sides of the aisle are not at all happy about a new reform deal that is being tied to the Inflation Reduction Act that President Joe Biden recently signed into law.

There was a secret negotiation and agreement made by moderate West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The deal was ultimately tied to “comprehensive permitting reform legislation” that needs to be passed before October 1, which is the start of the next fiscal year.

The deal that the two struck, they say, will allow for permitting to be sped up for projects in both fossil fuel and green energy. One of those projects is the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline that’s going up in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia.

There’s no guarantee that the bill will make its way through the Senate, though. Democrats used budget reconciliation to pass the Inflation Reduction Act with just a simple majority. But, since the permitting deal wasn’t officially part of that bill, it will need to garner the support of 60 senators in order to avoid the filibuster.

Many politicians have already expressed that they are opposed to the legislation. While GOPers will generally support reforms to permitting, some are not happy with the fact that the reform was tied to the liberals’ spending bill.

As South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said earlier this month:

“Senator Manchin, if you think you’re going to get 60 votes to get the sweeteners that can’t be done in reconciliation, you need to think long and hard about what you’re doing.”

Environmental activists are saying that Manchin held up negotiations and then turning his back on green energy. These people were pushing for penalties to be levied for the use of fossil fuels, but that never made it into the legislation — in large part because of Manchin’s opposition to it.

The permitting proposal would ultimately “gut America’s bedrock environmental laws,” according to the executive director of NGO Evergreen Action, Jamal Raad.

In a statement, he continued:

“There is simply no excuse for Democrats who care about the climate to support a toxic giveaway that amounts to little more than a fossil fuel wish list.”

Raad’s organization was in support of the Inflation Reduction Act. That being said, he believes that other climate proponents “don’t owe Joe Manchin their votes on this backroom scheme.”

It’s not just that organization that thinks this way, either. Food & Water Watch said that the permitting deal would be dangerous for America. The agreement is an “awful side deal to fast track fossil fuel permitting” and would “doom any progress that might result from the passage of [the IRA],” according to the organization’s executive director, Wenonah Hauter.

A provision in the permitting agreement would direct the president to create a list of 25 high-priority projects for infrastructure in which permitting needs to be prioritized. The projects on the list would be deemed of “strategic national importance.”