March 03, 2015

Manchin talks about career, Keystone and foreign affairs | Register Herald

 In an exclusive interview with The Register-Herald last week, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said he hasn’t yet decided if he will leave Congress to run for governor in 2016.
Manchin said he misses West Virginia and has been upset with partisan politics in Washington, but the recent November election that handed both houses of Congress to Republicans has perhaps surprisingly put him in a “unique position.”

“The Senate is a different makeup now. The minority has as much, if not more, control than the majority. The majority can set the agenda, but they can’t pass anything without six moderate, centrist Democrats. I fall into that category. I’m in play with every bill,” he said.

For the senator, that allows him to wake up knowing he has the potential to get things done, make changes, and help West Virginians, much like he was able to do as governor, he said.
The moderate middle will have a major say on upcoming votes and on veto overrides, especially on the Keystone Pipeline and President Barack Obama’s request for Congress to authorize a U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Manchin said he fully supports the XL pipeline  and will “almost certainly” vote to override a presidential veto.

This is not the first time we are buying oil from Canada. We buy 2.5 million barrels from Canada a day already, but we need to cut down what we buy from the Middle East and South America, he said.

And securing the pipeline will help stabilize U.S. energy needs. He said the power grid is at a precarious point with federal regulations on carbon capture and storage leading power companies to shut down or transition coal-fired plants to natural gas,  regulatory moves that Manchin described as “unattainable and unreasonable.”

“We are at the cusp of not having enough power. Power plants want the reliability of coal in our portfolio. The base-loaded system relies on coal and nukes,” he said. “Gas is not a base-load power source because we don’t have the distribution lines for it yet.”

Manchin said a federal investment in carbon capture sequestration technologies and research would help make it affordable for power companies. That investment would allow current plants to meet Environmental Protection Agency regulations without forcing them out of business.

“We need a global fix. It is not just the United State’s problem to regulate. It isn’t up to us to fix the environment,” he said.

Costly regulations cause companies to move overseas, contributing to the United States’ job losses and our dependency on foreign energy sources, he said.

Regarding foreign affairs, Manchin said he hopes to see the United State provide Arab countries military support to fight extremists through airstrikes, technical assistance and special forces, but is against sending military ground troops.

“It would be different if we hadn’t had 12 or 13 years’ experience that hasn’t been good. We have lost 6,600 Americans — which is a tremendous price to pay — and hadn’t spent $2.5 trillion dollars, which could have been better spent here to rebuild American infrastructure,” he said.

Moreover, Manchin said the Senate Armed Services Committee had the chance to sit down with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who said he did not want U.S. ground troops to be deployed.

“He said it might do more damage, like throwing gas on the fire,” Manchin relayed. “He said, ‘I need to keep fuel in my planes and I’m about out of bombs. We do not want your ground troops and we do not need your ground troops.’”

Manchin said in addition to distanced support to the Arab ground war, the United States has to focus on shutting down its borders to terrorist attacks and leveraging power to make sure Canada and Mexico assist with preventing terrorist attacks coming in through their countries.