Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., was the main obstacle to reaching a deal this week on passing both the Democratic infrastructure bill that passed the Senate last month and of the broader bill to tackle climate change and provide $ 3.5 trillion over 10 years for a wide range of spending that would impact the lives of poor and middle-income people. As a result, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi postponed the vote on House infrastructure, suggesting it could take place on Friday. (At the time of publication, this had not yet happened.)
So far, House progressives have strongly opposed the passage of the infrastructure bill – which they support – without also getting the Senate, including Manchin, to approve the bill. broader, with the metrics Biden campaigned on. This bill would create a universal pre-K, saving the average family about $ 13,000 per year; reduce the costs of certain childcare services; give free school meals to 9 million children; add dental, eye and hearing coverage to Medicare; lower costs for Obamacare registrants; falling drug prices; invest in climate change action that would reduce carbon emissions, lower energy bills, create thousands of conservation jobs and mitigate forest fires; and fund both the repair of schools and the construction of new schools.
The White House said the $ 3.5 trillion investment would be funded by raising taxes on the rich and slightly raising corporate taxes (though still well below historic rates). The investments in the bill will generate much more income than they cost, slowing the impact of climate change, improving education, etc.
Manchin, however, has consistently backed down from the original price and refused to vote for anything over $ 1.5 trillion. He also opposed the measures in the climate change bill, calling some of them “very, very worrying.”
This comes despite the recent and very disturbing UN climate report that some effects of climate change are already here and will be irreversible for centuries, at least.
But why is Manchin, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources – a key post in ensuring the country pursues more climate-friendly policies – so adamantly opposed to taking the appropriate steps to combat or at least curb the effects of climate change?
Manchin has a direct and long-standing interest in the coal industry as a senator from West Virginia. The state is the country’s second largest producer of coal, and coal is part of its identity. Between 2011, the year covered by his first Senate disclosure dossier, and 2020, Manchin raked in a total of $ 5,211,154 in dividend income from Enersystems, a coal and energy resource company he founded in 1988 before entering the public sector, according to annual financial disclosures. . The senator earned $ 491,949 in dividends last year alone, as reporter Alex Kotch reported this summer.
The documents show that Manchin earned an average of $ 521,115, or more than half a million dollars, each year from Enersystems. Dividend income before Manchin took office is not public, but since joining the Senate, the least he has done from Enersystems is $ 243,663, in 2015. The most was $ 865,065 in 2012.
Enersystems accounts for 71% of Manchin’s investment income, according to FinePrint. This represents 30 percent of his net worth. His stake in the company is worth up to $ 5 million. Manchin, in other words, has a vested interest in creating policies to keep coal profitable.
And the family business is not Manchin’s only conflict of interest. He’s making money from other big names in the fossil fuel industry.
It’s no surprise that Manchin scoffed at legislation to tackle climate change. In 2019 he slammed the Green New Deal, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “I have to work with the realities and I have to work with the practice.”
In fact, action on climate change is not only necessary, it is very practical. In fact, some of the world’s largest automakers have already stepped up efforts to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles in exchange for electric vehicle fleets, in line with Biden’s plan for a nationwide framework of electric vehicle charging stations.
Earlier this year, Unearthed, the investigative unit of Greenpeace UK, obtained a video of former Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy discussing 11 senators whom he described as crucial to Exxon’s interests , qualifying Manchin in particular as a “kingmaker”.
McCoy boasted of speaking with Manchin’s office on a weekly basis. Environmental groups based outside Manchin’s home state, however, have reportedly said they have much less access than Exxon.
According to documents filed by the FEC, Manchin has received a total of $ 12,500 in contributions to the ExxonMobil PAC campaign since 2012. The most recent contributions were in Manchin’s last race, in 2018, and totaled $ 5,000.
Manchin received donations from several other big names in the oil and gas industry as recently as April, when he accepted $ 5,000 from the Marathon Oil PAC. The list is lengthened increasingly. According to data compiled by OpenSecrets, the senator has taken more money from the fossil fuel industry in the current election cycle than any other Democrat.
With additional research from Zoltan Lucas, TYT News assistant, and Jamia Zarzuela, TYT Investigates intern.