Manchin brings Dems back to middle

A month ago, Senator Joe Manchin seemed to be in the “doghouse” with the White House and many Democrats. Then, last week, he announced that he could support a balanced approach to energy issues by recognizing the need for renewable energy but also by reaffirming the reality that we will need a lot of help from fossil fuels to bridge the energy gap.

“Hello!” This is where we all should have been at the beginning of this debate. It took Joe Manchin to break the log-jam and push forward a bill which reflects the real world we live in.

If nothing else, the War in Ukraine should have now awakened us to the reality that people need heat and energy today–not just in a distant, hopeful, future state of zero emissions. The people of Europe are likely to be cold this winter. Promises of wind and solar are not going to help them now or even next year.

Of course, for the “deep-thinkers” here in New York state, the rhetoric remains as high as ever in making such promises. Yet, recently released data shows that in New York, after the closing of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson River, the percentage of fossil fuel in downstate electric bills has now gone up from 77% last year to 88% this year. (If you own an electric vehicle, you are using more fossil fuel in it now than you did last year.) So much for rhetoric versus reality here in the Empire State.

OK, I am harping a bit on one of my favorite topics. But, it irks me when people speak one thing while the reality is something else.

As to Joe Manchin, I am not arguing that everything he stands for is gospel. But, when it comes to energy, he pretty much understands the reality of where we are. As to automobiles, we are going to need gasoline for a long time to help fuel our cars. I expect that more of them will be powered by hybrids, and that helps. But, to think that we are all going to be driving around with batteries in a few years and then be faced with a massive electrical outage (think Texas a couple of winters ago)–guess again. A shift to all-electric cars is not something people are going to accept willy-nilly.

Those in the Democratic Party who are pushing for electrifying everything, are rightfully grateful to Manchin for agreeing to new programs which will stimulate renewable energy. The Democrats have a bare majority in the U.S. Senate. Without him, nothing will happen.

Yet, in keeping with the traditions of another true West Virginian (I am thinking here of former Senator Robert Byrd from that state,) Manchin tucked into the legislation special incentives for renewable energy projects which are built on the sites of old coal mines. How is that for ingenuity?! The last I looked, many of those sites were located in the State of West Virginia.

Which brings us back to the quote of former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, that “all politics is local.” Joe Manchin understands that — and as one political commentator observed last week, Manchin can probably be re-elected Senator from West Virginia as long as he wants to keep running for the job.

Indeed, now, we should all be thanking Senator Manchin. Moving the country back toward the middle is a good thing.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.


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