Manchin announces opposition to another Biden nominee

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

Friday, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin put the Biden administration on notice with regard to the delicate balance between green and traditional energy initiatives found within the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Manchin, through an op-ed run in the Houston Chronicle, scolded Biden for pursuing green energy initiatives at the expense of current-day energy security then withdrew his support for Laura Daniel-Davis, Biden’s nominee to serve as assistant secretary of the interior. 

Such an announcement is quite a deal more than mere ceremony. Manchin serves as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which would play a key role in Daniel-Davis’ confirmation. 

The senator, who had previously backed Daniel-Davis, said his change of mind came after the Department of the Interior declined to charge a lower royalty for offshore oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. 

Such a move would have resulted in more bidders and likely an uptick in U.S. fossil fuel production, but the Interior nixed the idea over climate change concerns. 

For Manchin, the move was little more than a game of politics being played at the expense of contemporary energy security. 

“I am appalled by its contents, which make crystal clear that this administration is literally putting their radical climate agenda ahead of the needs of the people of Alaska and the United States,” Manchin said in a statement on March 3. 

A week later, Manchin remained angry but had expanded the scope of his ire to include Daniel-Davis, who had, the senator wrote, played a pivotal role in the Cook Inlet decision. 

“Daniel-Davis approved higher royalty rates for the Alaskan Cook Inlet sale, which were explicitly designed to decrease fossil energy production at the expense of our energy security,” Manchin wrote. “Even though I supported her in the past, I cannot, in good conscience, support her or anyone else who will play partisan politics and agree with this misguided and dangerous manipulation of the law.”

This marked the second time in less than a week that Manchin announced he was nixing his support of a Biden nominee. As previously reported by FISM, Manchin has also recently withdrawn his support of now-resigned FCC nominee Gigi Sohn. 

Manchin, arguably the key reason the IRA survived Congress, also seems to have developed major buyer’s remorse on the Inflation Reduction Act, or at least in the Biden administration’s mode of enforcement. The senator accused Biden of manipulating the IRA to be a green-only policy. 

“While the Biden Administration has continued to play political games and incorrectly frame the IRA as a climate change legislation, the truth is that the IRA is about securing America’s energy independence for the coming century,” Manchin wrote. “If implemented as the law was written by those who have been entrusted to follow the law, the IRA will not just bolster the role of fossil fuels and renewables; it will help fuel a new century of progress for American manufacturing — and yes, emissions reductions.”

Mancin added, “The IRA is critical to America’s energy security because it codifies an all-of-the-above energy policy that invests in energy innovations, rather than energy elimination. This critical legislation is not a political weapon to be used by any party or politician to garner partisan votes or serve a narrow political agenda – it must be about ensuring and promoting America’s energy security.”

As of this writing, the White House had not responded to Manchin’s op-ed. Daniel-Davis, who remains Biden’s nominee to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, has also not made a public comment.