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Joe Manchin scolds Biden energy official as administration bends climate law: ‘Quit fighting us’

Sen. Joe Manchin III aired his grievances Thursday to a top Department of Energy official over the Biden administration disregarding federal law, doubling down on his frustration with how energy and climate policies from the Inflation Reduction Act are being implemented.

The West Virginia Democrat and chair of the Senate Energy Committee told Energy Deputy Secretary David Turk during the panel’s first hearing of the new Congress that he was tired of “fighting continuously” with the administration over the execution of the tax-and-climate-spending law passed last year by Democrats.

“Do you know how frustrating it is to basically have a piece of legislation every Democrat voted for and see the administration trying to change the implementation of it?” Mr. Manchin said. “Do you know how frustrating it is to fight the way we did and then have to go back and fight our own administration to do the right thing?”

Mr. Manchin escalated his accusations that the administration has “completely violated” the law, charging officials with “cherry-picking” the measure to promote its clean-energy provisions while turning a blind eye to fossil fuels energy security.

“This administration has misaligned the purpose of the [Inflation Reduction Act]. The IRA is for energy security, and it’s been touted by the administration as strictly an environmental bill,” Mr. Manchin said. “We did this because we were not able to — I think — perform our responsibilities as a superpower of the world… Please quit fighting us. Work with us.”

Mr. Manchin’s major bone to pick with the administration is with the electric vehicle tax credits, which provide up to $7,500 for each new vehicle. However, there are domestic sourcing and assembly stipulations meant to wean the U.S. off its dependency on China for critical minerals. The Treasury Department is offering the $7,500 credit but is forgoing the critical mineral requirements as it finalizes policy guidance for the IRS, allowing EV-buyers to receive the cash incentive when they otherwise would not.

Mr. Manchin says that’s unacceptable and is in blatant defiance of the law.

“I’m not satisfied at all with what this admin is doing on EVs. Janet Yellen is a friend of mine, and I respect her immensely,” Mr. Manchin later told The Washington Times. “We restfully disagree, and she is basically not following the law, and this administration is not. They’re cherry-picking it.”

Mr. Turk, who praised Mr. Manchin for his help crafting the IRA, said there’s not much the Department of Energy can do.

“We are providing technical help and expertise to our Treasury colleagues to try and help move that process along, but it’s not a process that we control,” he said.

Mr. Manchin also raised concerns with new greenhouse gas emissions guidance from the administration that he said “clearly favors renewables over fossil projects,” undermining the law’s energy security objective. In addition, he expressed worries about links to China with Microvast, a Texas-based lithium battery company that was recently awarded a $200 million Energy Department grant to build a new plant in Tennessee.

Mr. Manchin, who has raked in millions of dollars from his family’s coal company in the energy-rich state, also bashed the administration for its anti-coal policies.

“This administration continues to wage war on coal,” he said. “They can say what they want to. I’m from coal country, so I know what’s happening.”

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