Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin redoubled his efforts to convince President Joe Biden to reinstate the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing that it would bolster U.S. energy independence.
Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, made the comments following Biden’s decision to tap into the U.S. emergency oil stockpile. The federal government will release approximately 50 million barrels of oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the White House said Tuesday.
“I am writing today to express my support of responsible energy infrastructure development, including of oil and natural gas pipelines. Pipelines continue to be the safest mode to transport our oil and natural gas resources and they support thousands of high-paying, American union jobs. To that end, I encourage you to reconsider your decision to revoke the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and take into account the potential impacts of any further action to safety, jobs, and energy security,” Manchin noted.
“I continue to call on President Biden to responsibly increase energy production here at home and to reverse course to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built which would have provided our country with up to 900,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, one of our closest allies,” Manchin said in a statement.
“To be clear, this is about American energy independence and the fact that hard working Americans should not depend on foreign actors, like OPEC+, for our energy security and instead focus on the real challenges facing our country’s future,” he continued.
Shortly after Biden revoked Keystone XL’s federal permit, Manchin urged the president to reconsider. Pipelines are the nation’s “safest mode to transport our oil,” the West Virginia Democrat stated at the time.
But the president has continued to pursue an aggressive, anti-fossil fuel agenda that includes nixing pipelines importing crude oil, ditching oil drilling projects and banning new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Biden has vowed to set the U.S. on course to having a carbon-free electric grid by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050.
“This is the decade that will determine the answer. This decade,” Biden said during an international climate summit on Nov. 1. “The science is clear: We only have a brief window left before us to raise our ambitions and to raise — to meet the task that’s rapidly narrowing.”
Manchin, however, has stood in the way of Biden’s climate agenda, causing Democrats to strike the $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program from the Build Back Better Act. It remains unclear whether he will vote in favor of the current form of the spending package which includes a tax on methane emissions.
Last month, President Biden petitioned oil industry leaders to help lower skyrocketing energy prices as cold weather approaches.
The White House is concerned that rising energy costs will continue to increase inflation and set the U.S. economic recovery back, according to Politico, which confirmed a Reuters report. The precise details of talks between Biden and the oil industry, which the president has strongly criticized, remained unclear.
“We are closely monitoring the cost of oil and the cost of gas Americans are paying at the pump,” an unnamed White House official told Reuters. “And we are using every tool at our disposal to address anti-competitive practices in U.S. and global energy markets to ensure reliable and stable energy markets.”
Oil and natural gas prices in the U.S. and abroad have touched multiyear highs in recent weeks as suppliers struggle to meet heightened demand. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also doubled down on its output plan, rejecting a Biden administration request made in August to boost oil production.