The obscure federal agency that oversees the nation’s immense tangle of pipelines, power lines and transfer stations is unfamiliar to most Americans. But it has very much been on Sen. Joe Manchin III’s mind.
By the end of last year, the West Virginia Democrat had become deeply displeased with how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was helping the Biden administration advance its aggressive climate goals. Manchin, a staunch ally of fossil fuel interests, was particularly critical of the agency’s efforts to write regulations that more fully consider climate impact when it reviews new natural gas infrastructure.
So he kneecapped the agency.
The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin refused to hold a confirmation hearing for the reappointment of Richard Glick, the agency’s chair and a key ally of President Biden, after Glick’s term expired at the end of the year. That has effectively stripped the board of its Democratic majority, leaving it deadlocked and limiting its ability to advance renewable energy projects.
Manchin isn’t the essential tiebreaking vote for Democrats in the Senate anymore, but a year after the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act — which wouldn’t have passed without his support — he’s irate at the way Biden is implementing the law. And he’s fighting back: Besides his pressure on FERC, Manchin has vowed to oppose appointments to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department. He is even publicly flirting with running for president in 2024, an unlikely prospect but one that could be devastating for Biden — and a situation that senior White House officials are closely monitoring. [Continue reading…]