Manchin’s Pet Energy Proposal Slashed From Final Defense Bill

Sen. Joe Manchin (R-WV) absorbed a rare setback Tuesday night when his much-debated energy legislation was sliced from the final version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The West Virginia Democrat has long sought passage of his proposal to fast-track energy projects across the board. Its approval would also have meant the go-ahead for the delayed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline that would benefit voters back home.

Blowback from both sides of the aisle resulted in the measure’s failure. This followed Manchin being forced in September to remove his bill from the government funding package to avoid a federal shutdown.

Specifically, the permitting process reform he pushed would have streamlined the environmental impact review procedures on the federal level. This would result in potentially vastly speeding up approval for fossil fuel and renewable energy projects.

Manchin chairs the influential Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. After the NDAA details were released Tuesday, he lashed out at the failure to include his measure in the final text.

The senator said that the omission “will have long-term consequences for our energy independence.” He further slammed his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in a statement declaring that the U.S. “energy infrastructure is under attack” and has “never been more threatened.”

Manchin blamed “toxic tribal politics” for the measure not being included in the final defense bill and said it explains why voters hate Washington politics.

Part of the blame rests with his own party as numerous House progressives said they would stall the critical NDAA vote if his reforms were included. Members of both parties expressed their belief that the defense act was not the proper vehicle for the energy proposal.

One colleague, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), said the grouping of fossil fuels and clean energy in the measure meant opposition for the party’s climate change initiatives. Other Democrats expressed their support for parts of Manchin’s bill — minus the benefits for the fossil fuel industry.

As for Republicans, many pushed for more aggressive reforms to the permitting process to streamline new projects. With control of the House coming in January, they will get their opportunity to fast-track progress in energy production and end reliance on unreliable foreign sources.