According to Politico, Joe Manchin is poised to take over the top Democratic spot on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee without much opposition from his fellow Senate Democrats, despite widespread opposition from progressives in the House, activists, and billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer. The site reported that Manchin’s colleagues aren’t all that concerned about his horrendous pro-coal record, because they are a “team.”
Why are they on board? In part, Politico writes, because “the caucus would not welcome sidestepping seniority to install someone more progressive on climate issues in Manchin’s place,” and the people ahead of him in seniority don’t want to give up their powerful spots on their own committees. Couldn’t do something so outrageously indecorous to our treasured colleague, Guy Who Voted for Brett Fucking Kavanaugh, could we?
It shouldn’t need saying that this professed faith in Manchin’s ability to cast aside everything about his pro-fossil fuels past to “fight for a far more aggressive agenda,” as Sen. Cory Booker put it, is at best simply misguided and at worst a lie. Manchin has spent his entire Senate career defending coal; in 2014, he said there were climate deniers on “both sides,” always the mark of a true genius, and referred to Democrats who “believe that we can continue to run this country and this economy without any fossil [fuels] or any coal.”
He also voted for both Scott Pruitt and his replacement, Andrew Wheeler, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. He is not going to stop doing things like that when you give him the most powerful Democratic spot on the committee; the idea that someone would stop doing the bad things they’ve spent their career doing because you give them more power to do them is absurd.
Moreover, having someone so dedicated to coal in 2018 as the ranking Democrat on the Energy Committee, under a pro-coal, climate change-denying administration, is an admission that the Democrats do not take climate change seriously. Coal is the most polluting form of energy production there is. And experts say that we have just 12 years to curb emissions dramatically, or we’re all fucked. If we’re going to stop climate change, we have to enact radical reforms fast; putting Coalfucker Joe on the Energy Committee is a very neat way of demonstrating to everyone that Senate Democrats do not see this as a pressing issue in need of radical solutions.
Perhaps more troubling than anything in the Politico piece is this quote:
“I think it’s great,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told POLITICO. “Joe Manchin holds views that are very consistent with the ones that I hold.”
Sullivan has a 7 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters. (Manchin only has a 45 percent rating.) In 2014, Sullivan said “there is no general consensus on pinpointing the sole cause of global temperature trends.”
Manchin, if he does ascend to the top Democratic spot on the committee, will not prove to be a sudden Friend of the Earth. He might not start out by introducing the Coal For Tots Program of 2019, but he won’t fight against fossil fuels, either. You should blast these quotes from his Democratic colleagues vouching for him into your brain; remember them when it becomes clear how much he’s fucking things up. I know I’ll remember them when I’m fighting another climate apocalypse survivor for the last baked rat under a crumbled bridge in 2056.
“He may be the ranking member, but he’s part of a team when it comes to issues of climate change, issues of the environment,” Sen. Cory Booker, a likely presidential candidate, said of Manchin on Thursday. “I have a lot of confidence I can work with him to fight for a far more aggressive agenda for dealing with the planetary crisis of global warming.”
“Joe and I don’t see on eye-to-eye on a lot of issues, but he’s a really important member of our caucus. He wouldn’t be the only leader on issues of climate,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told reporters. “On climate, we’re going to make decisions collectively as a caucus. Nobody in our caucus has a veto over climate policy — whether they’re a ranking member on a committee or not.”
“I think Joe gets and understands we need to move forward on a diverse set of energy needs,” (Sen. Maria Cantwell) told reporters. “I would look forward to working with him in whatever capacities.”
(A diverse set of energy needs; kill me now.)
“If he does get it, he could well have the potential to grow into the role,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) told reporters. “You know you’re a senator from a state who likes coal and wants to push that, but that committee is all energy. You have to have a broader view.”
Senators Booker, Udall, Cantwell and Murphy are now responsible for what Manchin does on the committee. If he acts as everyone else expects him to, they should be made to answer for how they got this so damn wrong.