With the exception of those who travel in their own private jets, pretty much nobody seems to be buying the White House line about the “patriotic” need to pay seven bucks per gallon for gasoline or double their normal heating and utility bills to “defend democracy.” We’re also seeing our partners in western Europe dealing with a sudden dearth of natural gas and other energy sources. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin pitched an idea this week that could address both problems. Speaking as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Manchin is calling on Joe Biden to finish the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to bring liquified natural gas (LNG) to overseas markets, replacing the anticipated loss of Russian natural gas. It would also boost domestic supply lines, lowering heating and utility prices at home. The nearly completed project is currently stalled because of court challenges from environmentalists (of course), but Manchin is calling on Biden to use the Defense Production Act to push it over the finish line. You probably don’t need any help from me to guess what Biden’s response is going to be.
Senate Energy Chairman Joe Manchin called on the Biden administration to use the Defense Production Act if necessary to rush completion of a stalled pipeline through his state to help Europe replace Russian natural gas supplies.
Manchin said the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, which crosses his home state of West Virginia into Virginia, could transport two billion cubic feet a day and be up and running in four to six months.
“It’s the quickest thing that we can get, it’s more energy into the market that’s going to be needed,” Manchin said of the mostly-built pipeline. “I’ve been preaching to the heavens for a long time on this one. It can be done with the Defense Production Act.”
The DPA gives the President the authority to “expedite and expand the supply of materials and services from the U.S. industrial base needed to promote the national defense.” As regular readers no doubt are aware, I’m generally not one to endorse the use of executive mandates to get things done when legislative remedies are available. But under the current circumstances, there’s no way our gridlocked legislators are going to come together to force the completion of a natural gas pipeline, no matter how dire our current energy portfolio is looking. Manchin has already introduced a bill that would drive the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, but his own party is blocking it. Also, if addressing the cutoff of Russian energy sources to our NATO partners isn’t a national defense issue, I don’t know what else would be.
Some critics are arguing that the pipeline wouldn’t make much of a difference because any natural gas reaching the coast would need to be shipped to either the Cove Point terminal in Maryland or the Southern LNG facility in Georgia to be liquified for shipment to Europe. Yes, that would take a bit of extra time, but do you know how long it would take to get the gas to Europe if you don’t finish the pipeline? Forever. On top of that, if we got some people to work on establishing a new liquefication terminal in Virginia, we would create a lot of jobs and expand our domestic and overseas production capacities.
This should really be a no-brainer for a President who is generally so eager to issue executive mandates, right? He could drive down the energy prices that are imperiling his party’s prospects in the midterms and running his approval ratings into the gutter while appearing to take “strong, decisive action” to solve problems. So obviously the idea had to be rejected out of hand. Jen Psaki was asked about it this week and gave a predictable response.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday signaled that the White House isn’t inclined to tap the Defense Production Act to spur energy production.
“It would basically be providing money to oil companies to do something that they already probably have the capacity to do,” she said.
For such a short answer, that was a dumb response on more levels than you can probably count. The reason you won’t do something that might actually be useful is… God forbid an energy company makes any money. And it’s true that Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (the owners) could likely have the pipeline completed by June or July, but Biden’s allies in the environmentalist lobby have the project tied up in court and it could remain that way for years.
Clearly, the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight is at it again. Instead of taking responsibility for the decline of our recently dominant energy industry and doing something fully within their power to change course, they’re going to try to blame everything on Putin. Good luck with that. One look at the approval ratings for Biden and the Democrats will tell you that people aren’t buying all of this malarkey. And if Biden and his party don’t want to solve actual problems – much of which are of their own making – people will find others willing to do the job in November.