Thursday, December 15, 2022

Last Call For The Manchin On The Hill, Con't

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is getting a consolation prize for the failure of his legislation to significantly reduce environmental regulations for the coal, gas, and nuclear industry earlier this year by taking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hostage in the final days of the 117th Congress.
Angered by a pre-election presidential swipe at the coal industry, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has taken a hostage. Revealingly, that hostage is a chief architect within the executive branch of energy permitting reforms, which is supposedly a top priority of Manchin’s. (He recently sponsored a reform package that Republicans blocked.)

Late last week, Politico reported that Manchin would not hold a nomination hearing for Richard Glick, the current chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Glick’s term expired in June, and without confirmation by the end of the year, he would have to step down from FERC, leaving the agency deadlocked between Democrats and Republicans.

That could stall out the work FERC is doing on accelerating the electricity transmission build-out, which is generally seen as among the biggest challenges to the green transition. If more transmission lines cannot be built to move renewable energy from where it is produced to where power is needed, much of the clean-energy benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act will be lost, and hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases that could be avoided will be emitted per year.

Manchin conditioned his support for the IRA on getting a vote for his permitting reform bill. Ultimately, he pulled the package from the continuing resolution to fund the government in September because it didn’t have the votes. Manchin has talked about adding permitting reforms to the defense policy bill, which passes Congress every year.

The permitting package Manchin introduced earlier this year included electric transmission reforms that would give FERC “siting authority” to approve the construction of transmission lines (even over objections of regional planners) if they are deemed in the national interest. FERC has no such preemption authority now for transmission; it does have it for natural gas pipelines. The permitting bill would also allow FERC to undertake all environmental reviews for transmission projects, and to allocate the costs of such projects unilaterally.

This would hand FERC a considerable amount of power, which would all go to waste if the agency mired in gridlock because the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee—Manchin—refused to confirm its leader in a fit of pique. Even without new powers, Biden’s FERC is actively working to accelerate transmission permitting, which Manchin’s maneuver would also hamper.

The situation calls into question whether Manchin cares all that much about bolstering domestic energy production, or if he is more myopically interested in getting particular fossil fuel projects in West Virginia approved and built, over local objections. At any rate, it’s hard to say he’s a sincere believer in improving transmission build-out, when he’s stalling its biggest champion in the government.

Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon would only give the Prospect a brief one-line statement about the Glick nomination and its impact on permitting reform, one he has given other outlets. “The Chairman was not comfortable holding a hearing,” Runyon said in an email.


So no, Manchin will get his pound of flesh, and if he's still the Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, he can continue to block the nomination of a FERC head for another two years by denying any Biden appointment a confirmation hearing. Biden may have won a major battle getting his Green New Deal passed, but it looks like America will be paying the Manchin toll on that road for a long time to come.

Trump Cards, Con't

 No really.  Trump cards.

The grifter-in-chief has now discovered NFTs.

The indictments cannot come quickly enough.

Welcome To Gunmerica, Decade Of Death And Destruction Edition

Ten years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, school shootings and open carry are even more prevalent as America stocks up for a war against itself.

Marking a decade since the Sandy Hook school massacre, President Joe Biden said Wednesday the United States must do more to tackle the nation's gun violence epidemic and people should have "societal guilt" for taking too long to address it.

Biden said in a statement that 10 years ago, on Dec. 14, 2012, "the unthinkable happened," when 20 young children and six educators were killed at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Survivors "still carry the wounds of that day," he said.

“We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem. We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again,” he said. “We owe it to the courageous, young survivors and to the families who lost part of their soul ten years ago to turn their pain into purpose.”

The president touted the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that he signed into law in June, the most sweeping legislation aimed at preventing gun violence in 30 years. Passed after mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, the legislation provides grants to states for “red flag” laws, enhances background checks to include juvenile records, and closes the “boyfriend loophole” by keeping guns away from unmarried dating partners convicted of abuse. It will also require enhanced background checks for people ages 18 to 21 and funding for youth mental health services.

"Still, we must do more," Biden said. "I am determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America."

Banning assault weapons has been at the top of Biden's agenda this year, though it faces uncertain legislative odds due to opposition from Republicans in Congress. Then-President Bill Clinton signed the first and only U.S. assault weapons ban into law in 1994, but it expired in 2004.

Blue states will enforce the BSCA. Red states will not. They'll take the money for it and just give it to police departments to buy them more weapons to use against us. Besides, the Roberts Court will find a case to eliminate gun safety legislation nationwide, and unfettered access to firearms and ammo in all 50 states and DC (well, maybe not DC) will make the next Sandy Hook massacre look quaint.

No, what Sandy Hook marked in American history was the end of gun regulation. I laid out the path ten years ago.

If you want to stop guns, go after the manufacturers and the lobbyists. Period. Guns are a product, sold in the US. They have arguably the most powerful product lobby on Earth. You're going to need to start with them.

That time has come. 

Ten years later, even with a mortally wounded NRA, that battle has absolutely been lost. 

Welcome to Gunmerica.
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