WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin will unveil his full energy permitting bill on Wednesday to speed fossil fuel projects and offer incentives for renewable energy electricity transmission, legislation that faces an uphill battle.
“The text will be out tomorrow,” Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, told a press conference on Tuesday, noting it will give senators plenty of time to review the legislation he wants to attach to a temporary federal funding bill to prevent government shutdowns before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
Manchin, an important swing vote in the 50-50 Senate, reached a side deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer during talks for the wider Inflation Reduction Act for his permitting measure to be voted on this fall.
A short version of the measure has been out for months and included speeding the permitting of Equitrans Midstream Corp’s long-delayed $6.6 billion West Virginia-to-Virginia natural gas Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The measure’s support for fossil fuel projects has spurred 77 Democrats in the U.S. House and two in the Senate, including Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, to already oppose the measure. Some Republicans also say they oppose it.
“I’ve never seen stranger bedfellows than Bernie Sanders and the extreme liberal left siding up with Republican leadership” and its rank-and-file senators, Manchin said.
When asked whether he was willing to shut down the government if he does not win the vote, Manchin said, “I’m not shutting the government down, I’m voting for it.”
Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, said at a Washington Post event on Tuesday he did not know whether the measure will pass this month given the opposition from some Republicans who hope their party can retake the Senate in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
But Schatz said the bill has a chance if it offers incentives for renewable energy including transmission lines. “Democrats in the Senate by and large are for this because they understand the need to make it easier to build these projects,” said Schatz.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Timothy Gardner; Editing by Josie Kao)