Energy and the New Congress: What to Expect Through 2020

By T.L. Headley, American Coal Council

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An increasingly rare voice on Capitol Hill – a centrist, pro-energy Democrat — he has a unique perspective on the current situation in Congress.

While Manchin is the senior senator from a small state, his voice is amplified substantially by his moderate, swing-vote position in an increasingly partisan Congress. It’s now also a divided Congress, with the House majority shifting to the Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. 

Since he was first elected to the Senate in 2010, Manchin has used this position to gain influence on both sides of the aisle – with a particular emphasis on coal and energy-related issues. The American Coal Council recently interviewed Manchin for his perspective on those issues and the new Congress.

“When I was elected to the U.S. Senate, I wanted to be sure I was in a position to continue advocating for our miners and the critically important energy resource they provide our country,” Manchin said. “I have served on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The committee has jurisdiction over national energy policy and has provided a platform for me as we talk about our ever-evolving energy markets. In January, after nine years on the committee, I took over as ranking member, a role that will amplify my ability to take on issues important to both West Virginia and our nation as a whole.”

Manchin said the solutions to the nation’s energy issues will not be found in a “Green New Deal” but instead through a “meaningful and pragmatic approach” to addressing needs and concerns by pursuing new technologies that allow us to “continue to rely on coal for our energy needs while burning coal in cleaner, more efficient ways.”

Manchin mentioned that Dr. Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency Committee testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in February about the role carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) can play in the coming decades.

“He asserted that because the U.S. and other developing countries will continue to burn coal for years to come, the ambitious climate goals identified by groups on the political left cannot be reached without significant investment in CCUS technologies,” Manchin said.