WASHINGTON, DC (WOWK) – The U.S. Senate was set to vote tonight, Sept. 27, 2022, on a motion that could have spelled “the beginning of the end” for the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia. However, within an hour of when the vote was set to begin, U.S. Senator Manchin (D-WV) asked for his own pipeline language to be removed from the Continuing Resolution bill.
Had the motion been approved with that language included, it would have allowed for the debate on the continuing resolution to begin. Now, the pipeline language U.S. Senator Manchin (D-WV) bargained to get included into the resolution will likely be stripped later this week, allowing the senate to pass a clean bill to keep the government from shutting down on Oct. 1.
Following the decision to remove the language before the vote, Manchin released the following statement:
“It is unfortunate that members of the United States Senate are allowing politics to put the energy security of our nation at risk. The last several months, we have seen firsthand the destruction that is possible as Vladimir Putin continues to weaponize energy. A failed vote on something as critical as comprehensive permitting reform only serves to embolden leaders like Putin who wish to see America fail. For that reason and my firmly held belief that we should never come to the brink of a government shutdown over politics, I have asked Majority Leader Schumer to remove the permitting language from the Continuing Resolution we will vote on this evening.
“Over the last several weeks there has been broad consensus on the urgent need to address our nation’s flawed permitting system. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to move forward on this critical legislation to meet the challenges of delivering affordable reliable energy Americans desperately need. We should never depend on other countries to supply the energy we need when we can produce it here at home. Accelerating the construction of energy infrastructure is critical to delivering that energy to the American people and our allies around the world. Inaction is not a strategy for energy independence and security.”U.S. Senator Joe Manchin
The pipeline, which is already 94% complete, came to a halt after lawsuits and opposition from lawmakers and environmental groups. If it is ever completed, it would stretch from Central West Virginia to southeast of Roanoke, Virginia.
As a condition of his agreement to the Inflation Reduction Act, Manchin worked with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to include a bill in the continuing legislation that would allow permits to be issued within two years and allow a president to designate 25 total energy projects. Also under the bill, any legal challenges to those projects, including environmental challenges, would have to happen within 150 days.
After the resolution was shared with the Senate GOP, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said she would back her democratic counterpart’s bill, however, the bill needed a total of 60 “yes” votes to block the filibuster.
With the wording removed from the motion, Senator Shelley Moore Capito also released a statement on the decision.
“I was prepared to support the bill largely because it would have expedited the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which my legislation also would have done. But when legislating is done via backroom deals and with input from only one party, it is extremely difficult to garner broad support,” Capito said.
While the legislation had supporters in both parties, as well as support from President Joe Biden, it also had both Democratic and Republican opponents. Just this week Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA). Mark Warner (D-VA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), both pledged to vote against the bill. Manchin has also faced outspoken opposition from Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Outside of the senate, environmentalists also raised concerns about the pipeline, especially its possible impact on air and water quality in the region.