November 01, 2014

Manchin talks about issues | Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Speaks at Pleasants County Public Library during tour

ST. MARYS - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., made a stop at the Pleasants County Public Library during his tour of the state Friday to talk about issues facing the nation and state.

Manchin said there are many issues facing the nation and the only way to fix them is to put politics aside.

"First I want to apologize to you for what you see on television, the toxic atmosphere in Washington; it's a shame," he said. "Whether you are Democrat or Republican, Independent or whatever you want to be you got to be Americans first and we have to put our country first."

When he was governor, Manchin said he and the Legislature would put side their differences and do what was best for West Virginia.

"Things have gotten serious here in 2014; there is so much money coming in on both sides," he said. "If the Democrats want to blame the Republicans they are wrong and they are right and if the Republicans want to blame the Democrats they are wrong and they are right. It's everybody's fault."

Manchin said he fears all the money and recruiting candidates instead of electing local people will destroy democracy. Manchin said he is also shocked to see how negative the campaigns have been to date.

"We are all guilty of it to a certain extent, I guess," he said. "There should be some civility to where people basically can say 'I may disagree with you, but I don't hate you.'"

Manchin said the answer on how to fix the situation is hard to find.

"You try to work together and find some commonality," he said. "In Washington it is guilt by conversation; they don't expect me and a Republican or somebody else even conversing because they think you have gone over to the dark side.

"How in the world are you going to fix any of the problems."

Manchin said he identified that as the biggest problem in Washington. He spent his first year meeting each member of the Senate, getting to know them and all he could learn about each member.

"I wanted to have a personal conversation, because it is easy to have a personal conversation," he said. "If I think we have a lot in common I'll be looking for other ways to work with them."

Manchin said he has taken a pledge of not to go to other states to campaign against or raise funds for a campaign against a sitting senator.

Manchin said the biggest problem is there are few moderates left in the Senate and several of them are vulnerable this year. Manchin said he wants to see Republican moderates like Susan Collins of Maine, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina reelected to the Senate along with Democrats Mark Udall of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

He said the moderates are a core group who can get together and talk over problems and they need to be reelected.

"If we could pass a rule where you could not campaign against a fellow sitting senator it would change the atmosphere in Washington," he said. "I think something is going to have to happen; we need to get our financial house in order."

Manchin also discussed the role of coal in the mix of energy sources. He said it is best to have a balanced "power portfolio."

Manchin said the answer is not to keep coal from being used in the United States, stating the U.S. burns a small amount of the total burned in the world daily.

"Everyday eight billion tons of coal are burned, not just in the U.S.," he said. "If the U.S. were to stop burning coal it would amount to less than one billion tons. If we are serious about climate change we need to change our trade rules.

"If other countries want to trade with us and sell us their products, they need to make changes in how they burn coal and reduce their emissions."

Manchin said there is money at the U.S. Department of Energy for coal research and it has not been touched.

Manchin said emissions have been reduced and more could be done.

Instead of setting standards that are impossible to match, the standard should be based on the emissions from the six best plants in the country.

"We want to do what is doable," he said. "We are facing a reliability problem. Last year during the polar vortex we were 700 megawatts from the power grid collapsing. Recently 100,000 megawatts have been removed."

Manchin said if something is not done there could be rolling blackouts and brownouts.

"In situations like that the most vulnerable are the elderly and the poor," he said. "This does not make sense."

Manchin said it is important to repeal and push back many of the EPA regulations put on energy production.

Manchin said he was going to look into concerns raised about the collection and use of student personal data collected in testing. He said he has always been a supporter of state's rights and agreed it is important to get the federal government out of education.

He said programs such as Race to the Top and Common Core have gone horribly wrong.


By:  Jeffrey Saulton