West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has rejected a provision in the Build Back Better bill, now pending in the Senate, that would restrict oil and gas development in the United States, further dashing his party's hopes of passing the trillion-dollar measure before Congress’ Christmas holidays recess.
The provision would prohibit future drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, according to sources of The Washington Post, which reported Thursday on Manchin's purported opposition.
The newspaper says the senator's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Manchin, who since fellow Democrat Joe Biden became president has emerged as a deciding vote on several key measures, also expressed surprise at top Democrats’ decision to include language ending an oil and gas leasing program in the Alaska refuge, but he has not indicated whether he will oppose it.
Manchin, who also is chairman of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee, has raised concerns about the potential negative impact of the roughly $2 trillion measure on the U.S. economy, now struggling under inflation.
However, he’s also faced criticism about his position being squarely in his own self interest, as he earns millions of dollars annually from his family’s waste coal business.
Manchin has also succeeded in killing a key piece of Biden’s climate agenda, a $150 billion plan to push power companies toward cleaner energy. Additionally, he has objected to a tax credit for electric cars and a provision that would reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas.