Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) wanted regulatory reform, in part to reverse some of the Biden Administration reversals of Trump era reforms intended to expedite permits for fossil fuel projects.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) needed Manchin’s vote in the 50-50 Senate to enact his latest spending extravaganza, the Inflation Reduction Act, which was primarily a massive climate and “green” energy subsidy arrangement. It gives Schumer allies some $370 billion in wind, solar, battery and other funding, tax credits and subsidies. In exchange, Schumer would offer a path for Manchin’s reform bill.
Manchin voted YEA, and promptly got bushwhacked. Once he’d helped enact the IRA, he had zero leverage. Schumer, he discovered, had promised an opportunity, maybe a vote, but not actual support. House and Senate members told him, we weren’t part of your secret negotiations with Schumer; we didn’t shake hands on any deal; we don’t want easier permitting for drilling, pipelines and LNG terminals that could help send US natural gas to Britain and Europe.
In the end, it’s probably a good thing Manchin’s bill went nowhere.
Yes, it provided some much needed and long overdue reforms to curb the paralysis by analysis and endless litigation that have plagued fossil fuel, highway, airport and countless other projects for decades.
But it also had Trojan horse provisions that would have unleashed hordes of newly subsidized wind, solar and transmission marauders on much of the Lower 48 USA, to send pseudo-clean electricity to mostly Democrat cities and states that don’t want even “renewable” power generation in their own backyards.
As the Wall Street Journal and energy analyst Robert Bryce observed, Manchin’s “reforms” would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other bureaucrats the power to issue permits and force multiple states to acquiesce to new transmission lines and 200-foot-tall towers across their scenic, habitat, agricultural and even residential lands – if the feds decide the lines are in the “national interest.” This could easily transform into federal powers of eminent domain, to take the needed acreage.
The feds could decree that thousands of miles of new transmission lines are in the “national interest” if, for instance, the lines “enhance the ability” of faraway wind and solar facilities to connect their intermittent, weather-dependent energy to an electric grid; or enable distant blue states to reach their renewable energy goals; or help achieve Biden Administration goals of stopping manmade climate change, “advancing environmental justice” and having “a net-zero economy” by 2050. Hopefully while avoiding blackout-a-week nightmares.
Populous states like New York could also work with FERC & Co. to have offshore wind turbines installed off less populated coasts, like Maine or North Carolina – and have the electricity delivered to the Empire State. New York’s peak summertime needs alone would require 2,500 monstrous 680-foot-tall 12-MW offshore turbines, operating 24/7 – when we’d be lucky if they generated electricity 40% of the year. (Imagine how many offshore … or 6-MW onshore … turbines we’d need to power the entire USA.)
Compounding the energy colonialism, the Manchin reform package would also give FERC authority to allocate and “socialize” transmission line costs, so that residents of states that don’t even get any of the electricity being sent along the newly imposed transmission lines would still have to help pay for them.
In short, the feds would be able to ride roughshod over states, local communities and federalism.
Let me say it again: Wind and sunshine are free, clean, green, renewable and sustainable. But harnessing this diffuse, unreliable, weather-dependent energy to power civilization definitely is not. And every bit of “renewable” power must be backed up with other power – so double our cash and material investments.
The Green Lobby and its legislator and regulator friends really seem to think they can just pass laws and earmark subsidies, demanding energy transformations by 2050 – and it will just happen. The raw materials will just be there, perhaps with a little MAGIC: Materials Acquisition for Global Industrial Change. That is, they simply assume the necessary raw materials will also just be there.
Not one of these luminaries has given a moment’s thought to – much less attempted to calculate – what this net-zero transition would require:
How many millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, billions of EV and backup batteries, millions of transformers, thousands of miles of transmission lines – sprawling across how many millions of acres of wildlife habitat, scenic and agricultural lands, and people’s once-placid backyards?
How many billions of tons of copper, steel, aluminum, nickel, cobalt, lithium, concrete, rare earths, composite plastics and other materials? How many trillions of tons of ores and overburden? How many mines, across how many more acres – with how much fossil fuel energy to operate the enormous mining equipment, and how much toxic air and water pollution emitted in the process? Where will it be done?…