After bipartisan rebuff, Manchin abandons private legislative deal to help fossil fuel projects
By Andrew Taylor
23 September 2019
On Wednesday, Montana’s Senate voted down an attempt by Senator Jon Tester (D) to put off a vote on an expensive pipeline project in response to the rejection of the climate change legislation being crafted by President Trump. Tester is up for re-election in a 2018 Democratic Senate primary, and is also running for the US Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint.
This rejection was part of a larger Republican Party effort to sabotage the opposition and to push through the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, which would override the State of Montana’s decision that its water resources shouldn’t be used for fossil fuel development.
The measure was opposed by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the junior Democrat who until recently was the Senate Majority Leader and supported the Trump climate legislation.
In a letter to Tester dated Tuesday evening, Manchin denounced Tester’s attempts to “defund the House Appropriations Committee, and then to stall” passage of the bill. “I continue to understand why you were concerned about blocking this important project.”
Manchin’s vote Wednesday was the first direct rebuke by a Democrat of their party’s anti-energy and anti-environmental positions.
What is particularly ironic is that the Manchin-Tester pipeline would have delivered cheap natural gas to the US. The Democratic-controlled US Senate bill would have transferred over $9 billion to the oil industry that would have been used to drill for the fossil fuel resource in the ground.
The project, the Keystone XL Pipeline, had been blocked by the Trump administration, but was resurrected last year by the Democratic-led House of Representatives. In order to expedite the process of approving the $8 billion-a-year project, the House passed the measure in just a few days.
In September, the House took the issue to the Senate for final approval of the legislation, which requires the president to get a two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto.
The legislation is slated to be voted on in the Senate on Thursday, September 28.
Under the language of the Senate bill