Joe Manchin, who is holding up crucial climate change initiatives in Biden’s reconciliation bill, collects $500,000 a year from coal stocks dividends: report

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia during the Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the FY 22 Energy and Water, Agriculture, and MilCon VA Appropriations Bills on August 04, 2021.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia during the Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the FY 22 Energy and Water, Agriculture, and MilCon VA Appropriations Bills on August 04, 2021. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
  • Sen. Joe Manchin earned $US500,000 ($AU696,552) in 2020 from his son’s energy firm, which Manchin founded in 1998.
  • He’s also the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which regulates the industry.
  • He’s received thousands from Exxon lobbyists and Republican oil and gas titans.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has in his own words “never been in a liberal in any way shape or form,” is currently holding up the $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion reconciliation bill that central to President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” domestic agenda.

But he’s also likely to hold back any further action to combat the climate crisis, which could impact his million-dollar investments in the coal and energy industries.

Manchin told CNN in July that he was disturbed by aspects of the $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion reconciliation bill, including provisions that would target the fossil fuel industry.

“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,” Manchin said. “If anything, it would be worse.”

As The Guardian reported in partnership with the Center for Media and Democracy in July, Manchin himself founded a private coal brokerage in 1998 called “Enersystems.” Though currently run by his son, Manchin still owns as much as a $US5 ($AU7) million stake in the company, raking in $US500,000 ($AU696,552) of income from it in 2020 alone. As of late 2019, Manchin was by far the most invested of any senator in “dirty energy.”

Manchin serves as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the coal industry as well as “global climate change.” As Sludge reported in early July, Manchin told the 2021 annual conference of the Edison Electric Institute in June that “coal-fired plants are being unfairly targeted by environmentalists.”

Manchin also draws significant campaign funding from the energy industry as well, including $US65,000 ($AU90,552) from oil giant Exxon’s lobbyists and political action committee. He also attended a July fundraiser in Houston held by a number of Texas oil and gas titans who otherwise donate exclusively to Republicans.

Keith McCoy, Exxon’s senior director of federal relations, bragged in a leaked video recording that he talked to Manchin’s office every week. “He is the kingmaker, and he’s not shy about staking his claim early and completely changing the debate,” he said.

In contrast, Manchin does not seem to engage as much with activists concerned about the climate crisis.

“We do not speak to Manchin’s office every week. This is bullshit,” the Sunrise Movement’s communications director, Ellen Sciales, told the Huffington Post. “Especially as there are unprecedented and fatal heat waves across the country, it’s outrageous that our politicians are working with the very people responsible for the extreme weather instead of looking out for the American people.”