Manchin releases details of energy permitting deal that could complicate passage of government spending bill

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin released his plan Wednesday evening to expedite permits for energy projects, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer intends to add to the short-term spending bill that must pass by the end of the month to avert a government shutdown.

Schumer agreed to pass permitting overhaul during the negotiations to win Manchin’s support for last month’s sweeping $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill, known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

But progressive Democrats, particularly in the House, have scoffed at the concept, and Republicans are hesitant to give Manchin a win and are writing their own alternative proposal.

“No matter what you want to build, whether it’s transmission pipelines or hydropower dams, more often than not, it takes too long and drives up costs,” said Manchin on Tuesday. “We’ve got a good piece of legislation that is extremely balanced. And I think it’ll prove itself in time.”

“I’ve never seen stranger bedfellows than Bernie Sanders and the extreme liberals siding with Republican leadership,” added Manchin of the bill’s expected opposition. “So, what I’m hearing is that this is revenge politics towards one person, me. And I’m thinking, this is not about me.”

According to the West Virginia Democrat’s office, Manchin’s permitting overhaul legislation — the Energy Independence and Security Act — would: set a two-year target for “major” energy and natural resource projects and a one-year target for other projects, establish a 150-day statute of limitations for court challenges, attempt to streamline the dispute resolution process and designate a lead agency to coordinate project reviews.

Sanders, the Vermont senator who opposes Manchin’s proposal over environmental concerns, told reporters Wednesday that he would “do everything” he could to strip it from the short-term government spending bill.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that that provision is not in a continuing resolution,” Sanders said.

In a brief interview on Wednesday, Manchin expressed confidence that he would defeat Sanders’ effort, saying that he respected Sanders but his proposal would be a part of the must-pass spending legislation.

“It’s going to be in,” Manchin told CNN.

The bill would also require the federal government to “issue all approval and permits necessary for the construction of the Mountain Valley pipeline,” according to Manchin’s summary of the bill. The pipeline intends to send natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said he supports overhauling permitting but said he opposed the Mountain Valley Pipeline provisions in part because he wasn’t consulted on them.

“Over 100 miles of this pipeline are in Virginia, but I was not included in the discussions regarding the MVP provisions and therefore not given an opportunity to share Virginians’ concerns,” Kaine said. “In that sense, I stand in the same position as many of my constituents who have felt ignored along the way.”

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