Manchin Statement on Permitting Reform Vote

December 15, 2022

ICYMI: To watch Chairman Manchin deliver remarks on the Senate floor about permitting reform, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement on the failed 47-47 vote to include bipartisan, comprehensive energy permitting reform as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“Once again, Mitch McConnell and Republican leadership have put their own political agenda above the needs of the American people. Energy costs continue to rise as we move into the winter months and geopolitical uncertainty continues to test the strength of international bonds while Putin weaponizes energy. Despite these challenges, Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus voted down a bill that would have completed the Mountain Valley Pipeline and quickly delivered natural gas to the market lowering home heating costs for families and making America more energy secure and independent. I believe anyone who voted against permitting reform has failed to act in the best interest of our country as they dismissed the opportunity to strengthen our nation’s economic and energy security.

“Permitting reform and the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are essential to ensuring lasting American security and independence. Continued inaction will be felt by every American in every part of the country. If I made a mistake anywhere along the way it was that I trusted my colleagues to rise above partisan politics and do what is best for our country. Instead they chose to kick the can down the road when America cannot afford to wait. What crisis will have to occur to spur bipartisan action? 

“As frustrating as the political games of Washington are, I will not give up. As I have said from my first day in office, I serve West Virginians and the American people with an independent voice not a political party. What is clearer now than ever is that party politics are paralyzing our nation’s ability to unite around the solutions our country needs. The American people have had enough of this dysfunction and so have I. It’s time for our elected leaders to put the American people first,” said Chairman Manchin.

Before this evening’s vote, Senator Manchin took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to vote to include his amendment that would strengthen America's economic and energy security.

“The permitting bill we have in front of us has been worked and we have been sitting down and talking for two or three months. We talked with senators on this side and on the Republican side. And we looked at different things. We're not basically eliminating any of the review process. We're basically expediting how we do it. And that's all we're asking for.  We're asking the courts to expedite when they take this under consideration because of the environment. The environment is near and dear to all of us, and we all have a responsibility. What we haven't taken into consideration is if we don't do this, we will not be able to maintain energy independence which means energy security which means national security. That's what we're not taking into consideration,” said Chairman Manchin.

Chairman Manchin’s floor remarks can be viewed here or read below:

Mr. President, I'm here today to speak about a very important piece of legislation we have coming before us, and we have an amendment to that legislation.

The legislation is the National Defense Authorization Act. This piece of legislation is something that we do annually to protect our country and defend ourselves and maintain the superpower status that we are.

Part of that is what they call energy security and energy Independence. You cannot be a superpower in the world if you do not have energy independence, and you can't be secure if you don't have energy independence.

What has happened to us since this horrible war Putin has bestowed upon the citizens of Ukraine [is that] he has weaponized energy and has put Europe in a tremendous bind.

On top of that we’ve seen the necessity we have and the reality of the world we live in. We use fossil fuels. But can we use them cleaner and better? Absolutely, and we do it better than any place in the world.

We have the bipartisan infrastructure bill that we worked on across the aisle, and now we have the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRA.

Those two pieces of legislation are unbelievably unprecedented in our country. 

And what the IRA did was this: guarantee energy security.

For ten years we're going to be able to basically produce the fossil energy in the United States of America, [and produce] more of it better and cleaner than anywhere in the world while we're also investing record amounts of money into the new, clean technology for the future.

People say well, my definition on energy, on climate, is elimination. I want to eliminate: no coal, no oil, no gas. 

Well, you’re not living in the real world. You just saw that happen and our nation, when we got pinched a little bit with these high prices people are paying at the pump, we started thinking about removing sanctions from Iran, the most prolific terrorist supporters in the world and giving them money to continue to do what they do, wreak havoc on the world.

We're also talking about lifting the sanctions on Venezuela, who basically has very little oversight as far as environmental controls, because we needed it. We wanted someone else to do what we wouldn't do. 

That's just wrong. It's not who we are as a country. 

We can do it. We can lead the world. We are the superpower. 

That means we have to produce everything that we have, an all-in energy policy, better than anywhere else in the world. 

In order to do that, we passed a piece of legislation that puts us on a two-path. You can walk and chew gum, you’ve got to have fossil. 

Now if you’re doing fossil which is cleaner that means carbon capture and sequestration. We put billions of dollars in there for that. On top of that, we put billions of dollars for methane, plugging old wells. We're cleaning up everything. It’s tremendous.

And if you're using the cleaner fossil that we use in United States and helping our allies around the world, we have been able to help the climate more than it can ever be helped by anything else. 

We're on the verge of doing something unbelievable. But let me tell you, most of it will be for naught. 

The United States of America is more litigious than any nation on Earth that's been developed. It takes longer to do anything here. We’ve got people talking about trying to get permits for 16 years. Canada, [it takes] an average of three years; Australia, [it takes an] average of two-three years. 

Us, five, seven, ten or more [years]. This is a ten-year path we have in this legislation. A lot of the programs we want to do, whether it's building pipelines, whether it's building new transmission lines to carry the energy that we need, whether it's developing new cleaner technologies, whether it's pipelines that are carrying hydrogen and CO2 — that's all not going to happen, and I just can’t believe it. 

And here's the thing I can't believe. All my Republican friends, and I have worked with them, and I know they're upset of the politics that plays into this, but they're upset about the IRA. We did it through reconciliation. 

Well, it was the only vehicle we had to do something that was monumental.

And we did that, and we did that by working with my colleagues on the other side for the last five years. 

My colleagues on the other side, my Republican friends, have always said Joe, we have to have more energy. 

Guess what? The IRA is going to put more energy in. 

The Inflation Reduction Act is going to produce more oil, more gas, cleaner than anywhere in the world, and we're going to have more energy. 

Why did you call it inflation reduction? Because if you have more product, you can reduce the price. Pretty simple, supply and demand. 

So, we're on that. And they said well, we've got to pay down debt. Guess what the IRA did? Paid down $250 billion of debt. First time in history — For 30 years we haven't paid down on debt. We did. So, we've done so many things. 

But that seems to be a pretty good thing that's kind of stuck in their craw and I'm ashamed of that and afraid for our country that we're going down a path where it's all about the politics and not the policy. 

The permitting bill we have in front of us has been worked and we have been sitting down and talking for two or three months. We talked with senators on this side and on the Republican side. And we looked at different things. We're not basically eliminating any of the review process. We're basically expediting how we do it.

And that's all we're asking for. 

We're asking the courts to expedite when they take this under consideration because of the environment. The environment is near and dear to all of us, and we all have a responsibility. 

What we haven't taken into consideration is if we don't do this, we will not be able to maintain independence, energy independence which means energy security which means national security That's what we're not taking into consideration. 

Who are we going to ask to do what we won't do for ourselves? Who will come to our rescue? Didn't see the Saudis coming. That didn't work too well. 

Nothing else is coming on board. 

I had something in this bill, and they said dirty Joe, the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

283 miles is completed of that pipeline out of 303. 93% is completed. We have a pipeline there that comes out of West Virginia that's a gathering [pipeline] from southwestern Pennsylvania. It's also southeast Ohio. 

It will put two billion cubic feet back into the market. It will backfill in the south and southwest and also help at Coves Point. 

You have LNG for all of our allies who are in desperate need of it. So much has been done and it's been so politicized. If you want to know why people are upset, watch this place operate for a while. 

I had a person one time said Joe, I can't believe what I see on television. I said oh, you're upset and you're mad and you can't believe what you see on television. You're sitting in your nice comfortable home. Try it from my seat.  

Try it from this seat when you have to play politics day in and day out to do what’s right for our country.

My little state has given its all. 

We've produced the coal for the last hundred years that built the ships, built the guns and basically everything. We're probably one of the most patriotic states in the nation. We have more people give more life to the cause of freedom than most any other states. We do the heavy lifting and don’t complain, never have. 

Yet we try to do something to produce more energy because the country needs it, oh, can't put a dirty pipeline in. It's not. It's gas, a transitional fuel. We need it. We'll have it for a while. The best supply in the world is right here next door. Yet the politics is being played. They're afraid that maybe I'm up in cycle in 2024, this might give me a leverage to get reelected.

I've been on the ballot for 40 years. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. 

I know what we have before us today. You have an unbelievable opportunity that's not going to happen in our lifetime again. If we don't pass permitting reform right now, my Republicans are saying don't worry, when we have control of the house, we'll be able to have a better deal. 

My friends, let me say this. You had from 2016 to 2020, you had the president was a Republican. The House was Republican. The Senate was Republican. You only had one vote for permitting reform and that was mine as a Democrat. Nobody else. 

Now we're going to have a supermajority of Democrats that's willing to move forward — and may be not all that comfortable about it but it's the right thing to do. 

And now because of politics, my friends aren't going to step to the plate? That's what they don't like. That's what people don't like. That's the politics that basically is destroying our country. You can't have it.

So, I come before you to ask you for your support on a piece of legislation that has so much good that we can do.

We can fix the mistakes that we've made. But you can't do it if you don't have the energy to provide the citizens of your country the opportunities to defend themselves and be able to help our allies around the world.

We will not maintain superpower status, I can assure you, if that can't be done. 

And this piece of legislation, without the permitting, what we've been able to do so much in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, and now having this to be able to put it into operation is something that's desperately needed.

With that, Mr. President, I can only say that I pray to the good lord that we can put our politics aside and look at what's needed and go back home and tell the people this was absolutely a win. It truly is a win for everybody. 

And this is something that I don't know how we can explain it if we vote against it. I don't know how we wouldn't vote for it and it's something we all want. Let me make one more point.

All 50 of my Republican colleagues have signed on to a piece of legislation with my colleague from West Virginia which is permitting reform. All 50. They know it needs to be done. Now, if you're going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, you're going to say it's just not good enough. 

Is it 50%, 70% better than what we've ever had? Is it moving in the right direction? Does it build a foundation, something to work off of? 

I believe it does because you've had tremendous amount of input. That's all I'm asking for. 

I'm asking for a fair evaluation of a piece of legislation that will not pass through these halls again. 

So, with that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.