Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee

Senate Democrats on Tuesday named Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-W.Va.) as the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, despite objections by progressive groups.

Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it MORE (D-N.Y.) announced the appointment, along with the ranking members of other panels.

While Senate Democrats decide committee leadership roles by seniority, the Democratic caucus ratified the lineup.

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“I am excited for the opportunity to continue to serve West Virginians in this new role as the lead Democrat on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,” Manchin said in a statement.

“This committee has a long history of bipartisanship that has helped propel our nation’s energy technology forward. West Virginia is a leading energy producer and major contributor to advanced energy technologies, and I intend to ensure this progress is continued,” he said.

“The problems facing our country are serious, and I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common sense solutions for long-term comprehensive energy policy that incorporates an all-of-the-above strategy and ensures our state and our nation are leaders in the energy future.”

The panel oversees the Energy and Interior departments, including public lands, energy policy, energy efficiency standards and fossil fuel production on federal land and offshore.

Manchin, who won a rough reelection race last month, is a strong supporter of the coal industry and frequently sides with the Trump administration and the GOP on energy matters. He famously shot a copy of the Democrats' cap-and-trade climate change bill in a 2010 campaign commercial to demonstrate his opposition to it and support for coal.

But he voted last week against Bernard McNamee, President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE’s nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It was a flip from his vote in the Energy Committee, and he said it was because McNamee denied the science of climate change.

Congressional Democrats generally favor moving away from fossil fuels like coal, which cause climate change.

Environmentalists have for weeks slammed Manchin and called on Schumer to use his authority to name someone else ranking member.

"Joe Manchin’s appointment as ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee is a stark failure of Chuck Schumer’s leadership," Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, said in a statement. "Schumer is out of touch with the progressive voters who will continue to push for a Green New Deal in the next Congress."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also called on Senate leaders to stop Manchin’s ascension, circulating a petition last week to try to convince him.

Manchin, meanwhile, has promised to go in with an open mind and take seriously concerns of the rest of the Democratic caucus, environmentalists, renewable energy advocates and others.

“Hopefully there’s concern over nothing, because I’m happy to work with everybody,” he said last week.

Four senators outranked Manchin in seniority and could have blocked him from becoming ranking member. But each wanted instead to be ranking member of another committee.

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellFive tech stories to watch in 2020 Hillicon Valley: House panel unveils draft of privacy bill | Senate committee approves bill to sanction Russia | Dems ask HUD to review use of facial recognition | Uber settles sexual harassment charges for .4M Key House committee offers online privacy bill draft MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking member since 2015, took over as the top Democrat on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. That spot opened up because Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line MORE (D-Fla.) lost reelection last month.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Progressives raise red flags over health insurer donations | Republican FTC commish backs Medicare negotiating drug prices | Trump moves to protect money for religious groups MORE (D-Ore.) remained atop the Finance Committee, Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowThe Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial John Lewis to miss Martin Luther King Jr. Day event Bottom Line MORE (D-Mich.) kept the top spot on the Agriculture Committee and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders over handling of feud with Warren On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans MORE (I-Vt.) kept the ranking position on the Budget Committee.

Some progressive had pushed for Sanders to move to the Energy Committee ranking spot, but he refused. He declined Tuesday to answer reporters’ questions about his decision.

The National Wildlife Federation welcomed Manchin’s leadership.

“At a time when Republicans control the U.S. Senate, Senator Manchin’s leadership atop the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee presents us with a bipartisan bridge-builder who could help us confront America’s wildlife crisis and find other durable solutions to the challenges we face,” Collin O’Mara, the group’s president, said in a statement.