Skip to main content

Of Course Joe Manchin Found a Way To Make the Debt Ceiling Deal So Much Worse

Joe Manchin speaks to reporters.

As the saying goes, never let a good crisis go to waste, and everyone’s least favorite senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin took that to heart during the negotiations for raising the debt ceiling. He took it upon himself to make sure his favorite little environmentally destructive pet project was included in the deal, ensuring that The Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia is able to go full steam ahead. The natural gas pipeline has been in development for a while, but a pesky thing known as regulations keep getting in its way. Manchin made sure that it was a non-negotiable inclusion during negotiations to avert a global financial crisis. Per HuffPost:

While supporters from both parties say the pipeline is vital to meet growing U.S. demand for natural gas, the project’s fate until now has hinged on whether Congress would change the law to legalize a precarious route through the Appalachian Mountains that has failed to meet federal safety standards over and over again. Including the pipeline in the budget bill set up a Hobson’s choice for opponents: Either give the project developers blanket approval or suffer a worldwide economic disaster when the federal government runs out of money.

Safety-smafety when money’s on the line, I guess. Why would the developers of the pipeline bother to use their big brains to figure out a safer way to deliver the gas when they can just hold the country hostage and tell the government to just give up on regulations or … else? Per the above source:

Construction began on the Mountain Valley Pipeline in 2018, but federal judges have repeatedly ruled, one as recently as last month, that regulators’ efforts to relax permitting requirements for the conduit from Wetzel County in northwestern West Virginia to a Pittsylvania County compressor station in southeastern Virginia violated the law.

After five years of legal wrangling, the project, which was originally supposed to take a little over a year and cost about $3 billion, remains incomplete, and the price tag has more than doubled.

First and foremost, who starts a project without understanding if they have all the necessary permits in order to complete that project?! Secondly, I guess it pays to have friends in high places because from where I’m sitting, the developers of this pipeline are acting incompetent, and yet they’re being rewarded by the GOP for not being able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and figure the project out themselves. I thought Republicans were all about personal responsibility, but I digress. The new bill that includes raising the debt ceiling ensures that the project can proceed with basically no oversight on regulations. Via HuffPost:

The text of the deal “ratifies and approves all authorizations, permits, verifications, extensions, biological opinions, incidental take statements, and any other approvals or orders issued pursuant to Federal law necessary for the construction and initial operation at full capacity of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.” A slew of federal agencies have to grant those approvals within 21 days of the budget’s passage and bars any additional courts from reviewing any potential “invalidity” of the permits and other approved elements.

If this weren’t so infuriating it would be funny. Thanks to Joe Manchin, these guys just got blanket approval for their own personal dream to strip the Appalachian mountains of their natural resources. If you’re wondering why this pipeline was initially denied multiple times, HuffPost has your answer:

The pipeline requires a minimum of 50 feet of clearance on either side of the route — 125 feet during the construction process — and some property owners have refused to sell their land, fearing that the project would risk polluting their water and air. The pipeline also traverses a uniquely dangerous route, crossing more miles of terrain considered at high risk for landslides than any other pipeline federal regulators have approved since 1997, according to Jacob Hileman, a U.S.-trained environmental hydrologist and researcher with the Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Oh, well, this seems totally fine then, right? Landslides, pollution, and pipelines, all essentially existing in people’s backyards. All totally normal things to include in a bill that either lets the world economy fall into disarray or apparently gives carte blanche to the most trustworthy of industries: pipeline developers who can’t get permitted. Awesome, cool, got it.

Make no mistake, this is all Joe Manchin’s doing:

Manchin has the best gig in the country: He gets to hold the country hostage and get all of his environmentally wrecking, physically probably-not-safe-but-who-cares projects greenlit lest the Democrats lose his pivotal vote. Personally, I’m looking forward to the 2024 elections when hopefully the good people of West Virginia decide we don’t need this man’s input anymore.

(featured image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and politics for five years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She has probably seen Cliffhanger more times than you. Team Edward 4-Eva.