By Sheer Coincidence, Joe Manchin Made Half A Million Dollars Last Year Off Of Coal

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Michael J. Kosik Anthracite Mineworkers collection, 1863-1916, Historical Collections and Labor Archives, Special Collections Library, University Libraries, Pennsylvania State University.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is an honorable man.

Sure, he's stood in the way of almost every single thing Democrats have tried to do since President Joe Biden was elected, but that was because he was standing by his principles. One of which appears to be the belief that when Democrats are elected and have a majority, they should just sit very still and stay very quiet until it's all over and Republicans have a majority again. Some people might think that makes very little sense, especially those of us who think that left-leaning policies are both good and not quite as repulsive to people as others might think. But those are his principles and he sticks by them. He sees himself as The Chosen One, sent by unseen forces to thwart the excesses of his own party.

Excesses like "addressing climate change," a popular issue with kooky idealists who don't want to have to live underwater like The Snorks.

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This week on CNN, Manchin shared his concerns about the "very, very disturb[ing]" climate provisions in the party's $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation bill:

"I know they have the climate portion in here, and I'm concerned about that," Manchin said moments after Biden met with Senate Democrats in the Capitol on Wednesday.

"Because if they're eliminating fossils, and I'm finding out there's a lot of language in places they're eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing, because if you're sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil (fuel) has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that's going to clean up the global climate, it won't clean it up all. If anything, it would be worse."

Are these actual things? Are we getting rid of fossil fuels entirely? Would eliminating fossil fuels actually be worse for our environment?

Not so much.

The bill would end fossil fuel subsidies. This would mean that oil and gas companies would no longer get a tax break as a little "thank you" for all the pollution they do. They could and would still exist, they just wouldn't get tax breaks for existing. As for how eliminating these subsidies would actually be worse for the environment? Not quite sure where to begin with that one.

As Salon's Kenny Stancil notes, it is just possible that Joe Manchin's opposition to these climate change provisions is not born out of a concern that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies would hurt the environment, but perhaps more out of a concern that it would hurt his own wallet. Because according to a recent report from Sludge, he makes about $500K a year from the coal industry.

Via Sludge:

Manchin earns hundreds of thousands of dollars each year through coal sales to power plants that supply Edison Electric Institute member companies. His family company, Enersystems, is a contractor of American Bituminous Power Partners (AmBit), a coal power plant located near Grant Town, W.V. that provides energy to Monogahela Power Company, according to documents from the West Virginia Public Services Commission (PSC). Also known as Mon Power, the electric company is a subsidiary of energy giant FirstEnergy and an EEI member.

Manchin founded the coal brokerage Enersystems in 1988 and helped run the company, handing control to his son Joseph upon being elected West Virginia secretary of state in 2000 and reportedly moving his holdings into a blind trust between 2005 and 2010. In Manchin's most recent financial disclosure, covering the fiscal year 2020, he reports that his non-public shares of Enersystems, a "contract services and material provider for utility plants," are worth between $1 million and $5 million, and sent him an income of $492,000. His total income from the company since joining the Senate is more than $4.5 million.

That sure is a lot of money.

The thing is, this isn't campaign donations. It's not "Oh look at all of these donations he gets from the coal industry!" while referring to donations from individuals in that industry instead of those from PACs to make it seem like he's on the take when really he's not. This is his actual, personal money and his actual, personal company and these climate provisions will stand in the way of him and his family making millions of dollars. Of course he's against them.

Since Manchin's vote is needed to pass this bill and almost everything else Senate Democrats want to do, he's going to get his way on pretty much everything he wants. Unfortunately, one of the things he apparently wants is $500,000 a year, and it's probably illegal to work that into the budget proposal. Perhaps we, the American people, could take up a collection and crowdfund that extra $500,000 that he needs so desperately he's willing to torch the planet for it?

[Salon]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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