Sen. Joe Manchin insisted Tuesday that a side deal he brokered with President Biden on a pipeline in his home state of West Virginia — that cleared the way for a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on a $739 billion spending plan — will not benefit him personally.
Manchin (D-WV) told WOWK on Monday that he “secured a commitment” from Biden, Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that they would allow completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline carrying West Virginian natural gas to Virginia in exchange for his signing on to the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Everyone thinks this is for West Virginia or it’s about me. It has nothing to do with me and it has everything to do not only with West Virginia but our country and the security and energy we need and that’s the bottom line,” Manchin said in an interview Tuesday on WV MetroNews.
Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, claimed no other current infrastructure project in the US would be able to deliver the energy that the Mountain Valley Pipeline can.
“There’s nothing that we can go to [right now] that will bring 2 billion cubic feet back into the marketplace,” he said.
“With the high energy costs that we have, the high gas and natural gas prices, the high gasoline prices, the only way you can get those prices down is by manufacturing and competing more, producing more. And that’s what this is about,” Manchin added.
When Biden examined the Mountain Valley, according to the senator, he realized “we’ve got to have product in the market. And this is one way to do it.”
The commitment came just days after Manchin and Schumer announced they had come to an agreement on the spending package, which Democrats plan to push through the 50-50 Senate through reconciliation.
The procedural tactic will allow them to bypass the usual 60-vote threshold to approve legislation.
The deal Manchin worked out with Biden — separate from the spending plan — would allow the president to designate 25 energy infrastructure projects that he considers to be of national importance for fast-track permitting.
The 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, which has come under a number of legal challenges, is among those permits.
Manchin said an additional $1.2 billion investment would be needed to finish the pipeline, which is about 94% complete.
It would take roughly five months to finish and create about 2,500 jobs, he estimated, while providing about $40 million annually in tax revenue for West Virginia.