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How the EPA Could (Will?) Undermine Joe Manchin's Energy Concessions

Joe Manchin, call your office! You’ve just been played.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) traded his support for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) scaled-down Build Back Better bill in exchange for bringing to a vote some permitting reforms relating primarily to energy.
According to Manchin, Democratic leaders “committed to advancing a suite of commonsense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built.”
Good luck with that, even if those reforms pass.
Under the Biden administration what Congress can give, federal agencies can—and likely will—take away.
This was made clear in a recent Reuters interview with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan. According to Reuters, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to use new limits on traditional pollutants like ozone and coal ash to help encourage the retirement of the nation’s remaining coal-fired power plants.”
But wait, didn’t the U.S. Supreme Court limit the EPA’s ability to expand its scope beyond congressional authorization? That decision even focused on Manchin’s home state.
“The approach reflects how the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden intends to forge ahead with goals to decarbonize the power sector despite the recent ruling from the court,” according to the Reuters article.
Here’s how Regan explains it: “We want to present the industry with a suite of regulations so that they can make the best long-term investments possible. The power sector will ... look at the cost benefit of complying with those and more than likely stay with the conclusion that ... clean energy is more cost effective for them and for their customers.”
In essence, Regan says the Court’s ruling makes the EPA’s goal of shutting down fossil fuel electricity generation, beginning with coal, a little trickier. “But are we deterred? Absolutely not. EPA is still in the game,” he tells the Reuters reporter. By which he means the EPA is still in the regulating game.
Now, there is no reason to think the pro-Green New Deal EPA or other federal agencies in the Biden administration wouldn’t take a similar approach and over-regulate Manchin’s pipeline permitting reforms.
Reform the permitting process all you like, Joe. But if the applicable federal agencies decide to make life difficult for companies seeking permission to build export facilities or pipelines or transmission lines, they can. And Regan assures us they will.