Manchin says he will fight EPA rules
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Tuesday he has been assured the federal cap-and-trade bill was dead, and he promised to continue fighting federal environmental regulations.
Manchin said he met shortly before being sworn into office Monday with Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"I got his commitment that cap and trade definitely will not be on the agenda, will not come up and is not part of the agenda of the next Congress," Manchin said in a conference call Tuesday morning.
During a meeting of Senate Democrats, Manchin said there was no opposition to Reid's leadership. He said Reid was kept in place by acclamation and there would be only slight changes to the Democratic leadership team.
Manchin said he now will fight attempts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create additional regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions - such as those from coal-fired power plants - that are believed to be causing global climate change.
The cap-and-trade bill would have been a legislative attempt to cut emissions. But the EPA also has the authority, given to it by a Supreme Court ruling, to regulate the gases.
With cap and trade off the table, "I now focus all my energy on stopping the EPA and what it's done to the nation," Manchin said.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has already backed a bill that would strip the EPA's authority to regulate emissions for two years. Manchin would like to go further.
"I would go for a permanent ban on having the EPA regulate what should be legislated," he said.
Manchin's statements did not keep him from being attacked by Republicans.
"Less than 24 hours after taking the oath of office, Joe Manchin broke his promise to West Virginians by throwing his full support behind Harry Reid and President Obama's job-killing anti-coal agenda in Washington," said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
"By marching in lockstep with his liberal party bosses in his very first day on the job, Joe Manchin proved beyond a doubt that West Virginians simply can't trust him to stand up for their best interests."
Manchin said during his time in the Senate he would continue to drive home the importance of coal to the nation's energy mix.
During a meeting on Capitol Hill, he said someone was talking about energy sources and left out coal.
"I said, 'Oh, wait a minute, you forgot coal,' " Manchin recalled.
He said he was anxious and excited but cautiously optimistic about his time in the Senate, which he said would be markedly different from serving as governor.
"We literally walk out of the Governor's Mansion and have a whole new life," he said.
In Charleston, he was able to make decisions - like calling the Legislature into session when he wanted. The pace is not the same in the Senate, which is known as the world's most deliberative body.
"I don't think they were kidding. I've been here for a day, and I don't think they are kidding at all," Manchin said. "But I can tell you there is some restlessness."
Contact writer Ry Rivard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1796.