Manchin Marches On

Biden bows to Manchin and the frackers with EPA and FERC capitulation


Before he retires at the end of this year, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is taking steps to secure his legacy as the man who protected the fossil-fuel industry during the Joe Biden presidency.

Manchin’s fingerprints are all over the two big announcements the administration made yesterday.

In a national embarrassment, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan announced an indefinite delay of rules on climate pollution for existing fracked-gas power plants, bowing to pressure from Manchin, Republicans, and utility lobbyists. The public polluter pressure campaign claiming pollution standards would threaten “grid reliability” included multiple hearings in the Republican-run House and in the Manchin-run Senate energy committee, as well as polluter-financed Politico events. At the beginning of the year, Manchin organized a letter signed by himself and colleagues Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) attacking the proposed rule.

“Failing to cover the plants responsible for the vast majority of future carbon pollution from the power sector makes no sense,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) blasted. “It is inexplicable that EPA, knowing of these emissions, did not focus this rulemaking on existing gas-fired plants from its inception. With temperature records being broken daily and a spiraling cascade of climate-driven extreme weather events affecting families across America and the world, the planet cannot afford action at EPA’s pace.”

I hate to criticize Whitehouse, but the EPA’s capitulation to polluters is perfectly explicable. The call is coming from inside your house!1

In another Manchin-directed move, the White House announced its nominees for the three open seats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: one climate hawk, Judy Cheng, and two industry stooges, Manchin staffer David Rosner and Republican zealot Lindsay See.

As solicitor general of Manchin’s state West Virginia, See won the Supreme Court West Virginia v. EPA decision rolling back the EPA’s power to regulate climate pollution, so a real winner for the future of humanity there.

Cheng and Rosner are the Democratic picks, and only one is good. Judy Cheng is a real climate hawk who has thought long and hard about decarbonizing every sector of the economy. In contrast, Rosner’s main qualification is being a reliable policy booster for the fossil-fuel industry. “The only thing worse than a Joe Manchin staffer on FERC,” Lukas Ross opines about Rosner, “is a Joe Manchin staffer who used to work for a fossil fuel front group.”

FERC is now much worse than it was at the beginning of Biden’s term. A year ago, Manchin forced out former chair Richard Glick for daring to take baby steps on climate. Glick was replaced by reliable fracking-project rubber stamper Willie Phillips. The only climate hawk on the commission, Allison Clements, is also stepping down under pressure.

If these three new nominees are confirmed, FERC will have two rabid climate deniers, two polluter rubber stampers, and one climate hawk. So expect plenty of 4-1 decisions authorizing LNG megaprojects and hydrogen boondoggles.

The International Energy Agency would like everyone to know we’re still headed in the wrong direction:

“Global energy-related CO₂ pollution increased by 1.1% in 2023. Far from falling rapidly - as is required to meet the global climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement - CO2 emissions reached a new record high of 37.4 Gt in 2023.”


Writing in the ExxonMobil-funded New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi nailed it with a profile of fossil-fueled climate [sic] science Ph.D. candidate Rebecca Grekin. “Her entire academic career, including her Ph.D. work at Stanford, has been funded by Exxon Mobil.” In a remarkable coincide, Grekin’s research is entirely not about reducing fossil-fuel production. In case you’re wondering whether she is smart enough to rationalize her paymasters, I’m pleased to report that she is. “The way I see it is, if this money wasn’t coming to me, it could be going toward a new drill, a new rig.”

In a few years, maybe she can be the Democratic appointee to an environmental regulatory agency!

Common Merganserss


We at Hill Heat have talked about how the data centers mining cryptocurrency and generating AI spam are burning up ever-spiralling torrents of electricity. But, as Karen Hao and Steven Gonzalez Monserrate write, they’re also using up all the fresh water and transforming our planet into a pile of immortal waste.


Hey, one more Manchin moment before we go: the Manchin-crafted Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill have unlocked billions of dollars for grant and loan programs and tax breaks supporting factory-farm biogas production, with the argument that these are “clean energy” incentives.

Now, factory farms—aka concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)—aren’t exactly the most environmentally friendly thing on the planet. Promoting “biogas” is the Biden administration’s primary methane reduction plan for the agriculture sector. Unfortunately, as a new Friends of the Earth report puts it, the plan is “bullshit”.

Food and Water Watch disagrees, calling the billion-dollar-biogas industry a “greenwashing Ponzi scheme.”

Bullshit or Ponzi? C’mon you greens, make up your minds.

Okay, they both agree that “manure biogas production undermines environmental justice and exacerbates industry consolidation—all for methane reduction benefits that are overstated, inadequately tracked, and insufficient to meet global methane targets.”

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1 The house being the Senate.

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