12/06/18 6:39:41 PM
Senate Democrats are growing more comfortable with giving coal-friendly Sen. Joe Manchin a leading role in shaping climate policy.
The West Virginians expected promotion to ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee had set off alarm bells among liberal activists who said his pro-coal views are out of sync with the grassroots push for Democrats to do more to champion aggressive policies to confront climate change and elevate the issue on the 2020 campaign trail.
But those worries have not been echoed by Manchins Democratic colleagues in the Senate, who say they are confident he will work well with other members of the party. Manchins surprise decision Wednesday to oppose Bernard McNamee, President Donald Trumps nominee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, over his views on climate change also encouraged his colleagues.
He may be the ranking member, but hes part of a team when it comes to issues of climate change, issues of the environment, Sen. Cory Booker, a likely presidential candidate, said of Manchin on Thursday. I have a lot of confidence I can work with him to fight for a far more aggressive agenda for dealing with the planetary crisis of global warming.
While there is virtually no chance of major new legislation to reduce carbon emissions being enacted with Trump in office and the GOP controlling the Senate, activists worry that Manchin would be in position to water down a future climate bill if Democrats win the Senate and he becomes energy chairman. But his fellow senators point out that the energy panel would be one of several venues to write climate legislation, along with committees like Environment and Public Works, Agriculture, Finance and Commerce.
Democrats also made clear that the caucus would not welcome sidestepping seniority to install someone more progressive on climate issues in Manchins place.