Coal industry 'shocked and disheartened' by Manchin climate deal

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(The Hill) — The West Virginia Coal Association and several other state-based coal industry groups on Wednesday blasted the tax and climate deal that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) agreed to last week, warning it will “severely threaten American coal” and an estimated 381,000 jobs.  

“This legislation is so egregious, it leaves those of us that call Sen. Manchin a friend, shocked and disheartened,” the groups wrote in a blistering statement that accused the West Virginia senator of zigzagging in the energy debate.  

“Sen. Manchin has seemingly fought against numerous climate measures advanced over the past year by the national democratic establishment,” the groups said. “The current Schumer-Manchin draft agreement on climate and energy frankly leaves us questioning the motivation and sincerity of Manchin’s previous stance and his repeated chant: we must ‘innovate not eliminate.’” 

The groups warn the deal Manchin crafted with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) after months of negotiation “will quickly diminish our coal producing operations and all but obviate any need to innovate coal assets.”  

The groups argue the bill — which Democrats have dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act and plan to pass this weekend — will do “nothing for coal or coal generation” and won’t reduce inflation or lower household energy costs. 

“By turbocharging the lofty incentives that already extend to renewable energy, our nation’s baseload (reliable) coal electric generation assets will continue to be devalued and thrust into rapid decline,” the groups warned.  

The statement was signed by Chris Hamilton, the president of the West Virginia Coal Association, as well as the leaders of the Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming mining associations.  

Manchin on Tuesday said he didn’t agree with predictions the bill will lead to coal plants closing in his state.  

“I don’t think that’s the case at all,” he told reporters. “We have to have a vibrant fossil industry. We have a lot of coal plants that have been pretty old.” 

“Coal is going to be needed for the base load that we’re going to have to have,” he said, arguing that coal will continue to generate enough electricity to meet minimum domestic demand.  

Manchin also cited permitting reform, an initiative he is pushing in conjunction with the energy and climate provisions in the budget bill, as something that will also help fossil fuel producers.  

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