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Joe Manchin could get a gas pipeline out of the debt deal, and liberals don’t like it

By Jimmy Adeel
|
June 1, 2023

Sen. Joe Manchin is anticipated to gain approval for the contentious Mountain Valley Pipeline that will transport natural gas across Virginia and West Virginia.

This approval is part of a recent debt ceiling deal, provoking the anger of environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers.

Advocated by Manchin, a crucial aspect of the deal guarantees the federal government's approval of all remaining permits for the roughly 300-mile pipeline. It also protects the project from further legal challenges, as reported by thea CNN.

Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia who has frequently voiced criticism of President Biden's environmental initiatives, praised the White House and Congressional Republicans for their negotiation efforts.

Environmental Groups React

After succeeding in their court challenge against the pipeline project, environmental groups expressed outrage at Congress's intervention.

Last month, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit retracted permits for the project, stating that they violated the Clean Water Act.

Co-founder of 7 Directions of Service, Crystal Cavalier-Keck, criticized Congress for changing the rules mid-game.

Efforts to create exceptions for the pipeline were slammed by environmental groups as "immoral" and "unconscionable," with some pointing blame at the Biden administration and Congress.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline Project

The proposed pipeline, intended to transport gas from shale areas in West Virginia to Virginia, has undergone a rigorous environmental permitting process and faced numerous lawsuits due to its planned route through waterways and national forest lands.

The project has been delayed primarily due to successful court challenges upheld by the Virginia-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Critics argue the project has continually violated environmental laws.

However, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is anticipated to bolster the economy by creating about 2,500 construction jobs.

Furthermore, it is projected to generate substantial tax revenue, with an estimated $40 million designated for West Virginia and an additional $10 million for Virginia, Fox News reported.

White House Support for the Project

Despite Manchin's failed attempt to approve the pipeline through a bill rejected by Senate Republicans last year, White House officials supported his initiative.

Key figures in climate and energy policy, including White House senior adviser John Podesta and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, have recently voiced their support for the pipeline's approval.

Attempts to Remove the Pipeline Provision

However, an effort to remove the pipeline project from the debt ceiling bill is underway by lawmakers in both the House and Senate. This includes a group of Virginia Democrats in the U.S. House and a Republican congress member from Texas.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) also intends to propose a Senate amendment to remove the pipeline provision from the bill, The Hill reported.

Amid these developments in Congress, environmental groups are organizing a sit-in protest outside the White House next week to voice their opposition to the pipeline project.