Energy & Environment

Manchin: Biden could invoke Defense Production Act to complete natural gas pipeline

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday called on President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) if necessary to complete a U.S. natural gas pipeline following the ban on oil imports from Russia.

The West Virginia Democrat — at a Thursday hearing of the Senate Energy Committee, which he chairs — called the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline “the quickest thing that we can get, it’s more energy into the market that’s going to be needed.

“I’ve been preaching to the heavens for a long time on this one. It can be done with the Defense Production Act,” Manchin added.

“What we do know is that Russia has weaponized energy. They have used it as a geopolitical weapon. The thing I know about an adversary or a bully is if they have a weapon, you better have one that will match it or be better than theirs. And we do, we just haven’t used it,” Manchin said, in reference to American energy stores.

Manchin was a leading proponent of the U.S. barring Russian oil imports after the nation invaded Ukraine, a step the Biden administration eventually took last week. Manchin, a pivotal vote who has frequently bucked his party’s legislative agenda, called the Biden administration’s opposition at the time “so wrong.”

The Mountain Valley Pipeline began construction in 2014, and once completed is set to carry natural gas between southwestern Virginia and northwestern West Virginia. Manchin said at the hearing that the pipeline could be completed in four to six months and added that he has also introduced legislation to remove regulatory hurdles.

Under the DPA, which Biden has previously used for matters relating to wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, the president can direct private companies to prioritize developing materials crucial to national defense interests.

As gas prices spike, environmentalist groups and Democrats to Manchin’s left on climate issues have also called on Biden to invoke the DPA to deploy renewable energy. Press secretary Jen Psaki was asked at the Thursday White House press briefing whether use of the law is under consideration to increase oil production domestically, and she suggested the administration was not inclined to pay oil companies for “what they probably already have the capacity to do.”

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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