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Eying future, Manchin, McKinley to have key roles on energy panels

WHEELING — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. David McKinley are in key leadership positions to defend West Virginia’s coal and fossil fuel interests as the new Congress begins, and the new Biden administration sets forth its energy and environmental policies.

The Democrat Manchin is expected to take over as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee this week. McKinley, a Republican in the House of Representatives, has been named ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change.

The Senate is split evenly between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, and Manchin’s chairmanship of the committee is expected but not yet a done deal, according to his spokeswoman, Sam Runyon.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, still are working out a plan to share power among Senate committees.

With the even split, the Democrats technically own the majority, as Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, is the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

Manchin, though, is slated to chair the committee when it convenes for the first time this term on Wednesday. On the agenda is the approval of the nomination of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to be Energy Department Secretary. The energy subcommittee where McKinley will be ranking member has jurisdiction over many environmental regulations, and likely will be an arena where the climate change and energy agendas are debated. Coming before the committee are bills pertaining to clean air; soil, air and water contamination; regulation of solid, hazardous, and nuclear wastes; drinking water; and toxic substances.

“Being chosen to serve as ranking member is a great honor and recognition of our leadership and work on energy issues over the last 10 years,” McKinley said. “This subcommittee will be the tip of the sphere in fighting the Biden Administration and Democrat majority’s extreme climate change policies.

“Their goal of stopping the use of fossil fuels in the power sector by 2035 is not feasible and would decimate our economy. We will work to protect jobs and America’s economic competitiveness while developing alternative solutions that focus in American ingenuity and innovation.”

McKinley spoke out after President Joe Biden used executive authorities to have America re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement allows major economies like China to continue increasing emissions, while America is subject to a more stringent standard, according to McKinley.

He has introduced a resolution in the House highlighting the flaws of the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution,” said McKinley. “But any agreement that gives major emitters like China a pass is simply window dressing ….

“America has already reduced its carbon emissions significantly over the past two decades. We need to play a leading role in developing the innovation on carbon capture and other technologies that can be deployed around the world to reduce emissions. However, entering into an agreement that fails to hold many of the largest emitters in the world accountable will only put our economy at a disadvantage for no gain.”

Manchin, though, said he agrees that Biden “must renew America’s leadership on climate change through innovation.”

“It is an issue that threatens every community, in every country across the globe,” he said “I also uphold my view that the Paris Agreement must be improved to set all nations on the same stage and hold each to the same standards of accountability.

“The United States needs healing, direction, and leadership to overcome the challenges facing our workers and economy, our environment and health, and all of our communities. To reestablish U.S. leadership and solve the climate challenge, we must use every tool, natural resource, and technology at our disposal in the cleanest way possible; we must create jobs in places like West Virginia and wherever traditional energy workers have been left behind; and we must work with our allies and trading partners and hold every nation accountable to our climate goals.”

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