Joe Manchin blocks climate-friendly Fed nominee; WV Gov. says “God” will save us from climate change, so “drill baby drill”
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Sarah Bloom Raskin, Biden’s nominee to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, has withdrawn herself from consideration for the position after key senators opposed her nomination.
Bloom Raskin faced extensive criticism from the right for her belief that climate change exists and the Federal Reserve has a role to play in mitigating its effects. Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee have boycotted attempts to advance her nomination since her hearing last month.
“We just want them to show up for work,” [Committee Chair Sherrod Brown] said of his Republican colleagues. “In the midst of an attack, the Russians attacking Ukraine… they’re saying we’re not going to confirm the chair of the Federal Reserve, the vice-chair of supervision, the vice-chair of the Fed, and the other two governors.” He added, “We can’t run the Senate this way.”
However, the pressure against her also came from a specific Democratic senator – Joe Manchin, of West Virginia. According to Manchin, Bloom Raskin “failed to satisfactorily address my concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy to meet our nation’s critical energy needs.” In other words, she was not an aggressive enough supporter of expanding fossil fuel production and utilization.
Last year, Bloom Raskin wrote in an op-ed that “the changing climate’s unpredictable – but clearly intensifying – effects on the economy” requires regulators to “ask themselves how their existing instruments can be used to incentivize a rapid, orderly, and just transition away from high-emission and biodiversity-destroying investments.” This is not a radical position to take; 84% of economists believe that global warming presents a clear danger to the US and global economies. Furthermore, “98% agreed that a market based solution could achieve significant reduction in carbon emission while spurring development in a new, more efficient, energy industry.”
Fresh off killing Bloom Raskin’s nomination, we also learned that Manchin attended an energy conference over the weekend where he disavowed electric vehicles.
“I’m very reluctant to go down the path of electric vehicles,” Manchin said at the energy conference CERAWeek, held in Houston. “I’m old enough to remember standing in line in 1974 trying to buy gas – I remember those days. I don’t want to have to be standing in line waiting for a battery for my vehicle, because we’re now dependent on a foreign supply chain, mostly China.”
“I’ve read history, and I remember Henry Ford inventing the Model-T, but I sure as hell don’t remember the US government building filling stations,” Manchin said to applause. “The market did that.”
First, the high oil and gas prices we’re currently seeing, plus the west’s reliance on oil from despotic nations, make a strong counter argument to concerns about standing in line for gas.
Second, if Manchin is afraid of Chinese dominance of battery supply chains, government investment is the answer.
Finally, the market hasn’t single-handedly created the oil and gas distribution network we see today. The fact is that the U.S. government provides $20 billion per year in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; 20% to coal and 80% to natural gas and crude oil.
Manchin’s opposition to electric vehicles further imperils any attempt by Congress to address climate change in a meaningful way. Before the Build Back Better Act was gutted by Manchin and Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), Democrats included $13.5 billion to construct electric vehicle infrastructure and support electrification of industrial and medium-heavy duty vehicles.
Drill baby drill
The governor of Manchin’s home state, Jim Justice, has also taken advantage of the Russian war in Ukraine and its effect on fossil fuel prices.
In numerous press conferences since the Russian invasion, Justice has loudly advocated for increased drilling and mining, even using a Covid-19 press conference to preach about God’s intention to fix climate change for us.
”Now just think about this just for a second. Today the very resources that we have—coal, oil, and gas—our fossil fuels are now on the brink, really, of possibly preventing if not saving the world… Today, whether it be nuclear or hydrogen or windmills or solar panels—all of those we want to embrace, and I’m there—but they’re the parsley around the side of the plate. The meat and potatoes are our gas, our oil, and our coal.” (clip)
Then, two days later, Justice said if climate change is even real, God will save us (clip).
”I believe it is absolutely frivolous to think that today we can do in this country or this world without fossil fuels, and if we believe that we’re going to have just what the hand has dealt to us right now. We’re going to have chaos, we’re going to have real problems. … I believe, and my belief as strong is it may be, or can be, I believe with all in me, that we’ll have time and [God] will give us time as we go forward. If there is such a thing, and I underline if, if there is such a thing as climate change, I believe that he will give us time and the smart people will fix it. But today, today energy is being used as a weapon. This country, hands down, needs to be totally energy independent. It is a crying, pitiful shame to see what has happened under the Biden administration in trying to absolutely cripple us. We have become weak, have we not?”
Of course, like Manchin, Justice owes a large part of his fortune to coal mines.