Sen. Joe Manchin Vows To Block All Biden Nominees To Environmental Protection Agency

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin will block all of President Joe Biden’s nominees to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the agency’s proposed rule regulating power plants, he announced Wednesday.

“This Administration is determined to advance its radical climate agenda and has made it clear they are hellbent on doing everything in their power to regulate coal and gas-fueled power plants out of existence, no matter the cost to energy security and reliability. Just last week, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, every FERC Commissioner agreed that we cannot eliminate coal today or in the near future if we want to have a reliable electric grid. If the reports are true, the pending EPA proposal would impact nearly all fossil-fueled power plants in the United States, which generate about 60 percent of our electricity, without an adequate plan to replace the lost baseload generation. This piles on top of a broader regulatory agenda being rolled out designed to kill the fossil industry by a thousand cuts,” Manchin said in a statement.

“Neither the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law nor the IRA gave new authority to regulate power plant emission standards. However, I fear that this Administration’s commitment to their extreme ideology overshadows their responsibility to ensure long-lasting energy and economic security and I will oppose all EPA nominees until they halt their government overreach,” he continued.

EPA administrator Michael Regan is scheduled to announce his agency’s new power plant regulations on Thursday. The new rules will reportedly require gas and coal power plants to employ carbon capture technology, according to The New York Times. Out of the 3,400 currently operational power plants in the U.S., fewer than 20 have the appropriate technology in place to comply with the rule. They would have to do so by 2040.

Republicans have made extensive use of the Congressional Review Act in the 118th Congress in a bid to push back against Biden administration rules and regulations. Manchin has signed on to resolutions that would roll back the COVID-19 pandemic emergency and a Department of Labor environmental, social, and governance investing rule. Congress could move to roll back the EPA regulation, although any passed resolution would be subject to a presidential veto.

Manchin has voted against Biden administration nominees more often than any other Senate Democrat. Most recently, he announced his opposition to a Department of the Interior nominee over concerns she would play “political games” with energy production. Manchin is still considering whether or not to support Labor Secretary nominee Julie Su. (RELATED: Manchin Sinks Biden Federal Reserve Nominee Who Drew Republican Boycott)

The Senate is currently considering two nominees for EPA posts, and two others remain vacant, according to a Washington Post tracker.