January 21, 2015

Manchin Discusses Expectations, Energy Independence | Parkersburg News and Sentinel

WASHINGTON - The Democratic U.S. senator from West Virginia wants to move America toward energy independence and not relying so heavily on foreign oil.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., spoke with reporters from around the state, via conference call, Tuesday morning.

The call was initially to talk what he hoped would be a part of President Obama's State of the Union speech that evening, but the senator covered a wide variety of topics.

The Senator's big concerns about the President's speech was he wanted the President to talk about jobs, the economy and security. He wants the opportunities for good paying jobs to be created in the U.S. and especially West Virginia.

''I want opportunities for jobs,'' Manchin said. ''I want West Virginia to be able to compete for every damn good job out there.''

Security can be tied in with the nation's energy policy by cutting down on the U.S.'s dependence on foreign oil.

''The Keystone Pipeline can make the difference,'' he said.

The president has said he would veto any legislation that would expand the pipeline from Canada across the United States to the Gulf of Mexico.

Manchin said he would rather buy crude oil from Canada than from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia or Russia - countries that have had hostile intentions toward the United States in the past.

Being less dependent on those sources will help keep America from being dragged into conflicts and potiental conflicts around the world, he added.

As terrorism touches more countries around the world, Manchin is hopeful more countries will join together in efforts to defeat global terrorism.

Although indications are the economy is improving, that improvement has not yet reached the "Main Street" level where most Americans are.

''The people who are still in jeopardy is the middle class,'' he said.

Manchin said the country already has over $18 trillion in debt and he said he does not want to add to it.

''I won't support growing it,'' he said. ''That is something I am going to keep my eye on.''
The president has put forth an offer where people can do two years of community college for free.

Manchin said he first wants to see what impact that would have on the four-year institutions and how they are run, posing questions about if people would do the free two-years and then transfer to a four-year institution and what impact would that have on the four-year institutions.

''However well intentioned this may be, it needs to be thought through and debated,'' he said.

Manchin also believes if it moves forward there should be a "public service" component where people should earn that education.

The Republican controlled West Virginia Legislature is poised to repeal the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio law, passed in 2009, when Manchin was governor.

Supporters of the repeal said the bill raises power bills and hurts the state's coal industry.

However, Manchin said the action was purely partisan politics.

The original law was passed, with bipartisan support between Republicans and Democrats, to find ways to burn coal cleaner and reduce harmful emissions.

Manchin said it was an "all-in" energy policy where clean coal burning technology could be improved to reduce emissions and still keep coal as a valuable energy producing resource.

''Our law showed the country that coal could continue to lead our nation toward energy independence, while also reducing emissions,'' Manchin said.

He said he had not heard of any instance where energy rates were increased as a result of this law.

''What are they trying to fix,'' he asked. ''This law has allowed us to develop coal with cleaner technology.''

By:  Brett Dunlap