Following the ban on oil imports from Russia, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) called on President Biden to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) if needed to complete the U.S. natural gas pipeline project.
The West Virginia Democrat said Thursday at a Senate Energy Committee hearing that the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline was “the quickest thing that we can get, it’s more energy into the market that’s going to be needed.“
“I’ve been preaching to the heavens for a long time on this one. It can be done with the Defense Production Act,” Manchin added.
“What we do know is that Russia has weaponized energy. They have used it as a geopolitical weapon. The thing I know about an adversary or a bully is if they have a weapon, you better have one that will match it or be better than theirs. And we do, we just haven’t used it,” Manchin said of the American energy stores.
In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Manchin was a leading advocate of barring oil imports from that nation, a step taken last week by the Biden administration. Manchin, whose votes frequently buck his party’s legislative agenda, described the Biden administration’s opposition to the measure at the time as “so wrong.”.
A natural gas pipeline is under construction in Virginia and West Virginia, and once completed, the Mountain Valley Pipeline will be able to carry natural gas between the two states. According to Manchin, the pipeline could be complete in four to six months and he has also introduced legislation to remove regulatory obstacles.
By directing private companies to prioritize developing materials crucial to national defense interests, the President has previously employed the DPA for matters relating to wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Biden is also being urged to use his DPA authority to deploy renewable energy amid high gas prices and opposition from environmental groups to Manchin on climate. In a Thursday press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked if the law can be used to increase domestic oil production. She indicated that the administration is not inclined to pay oil companies for “what they might already be able to do.”
According to Psaki, Biden ‘cannot do much’ about gas prices, blaming Putin again and claiming the record inflation of 7.9% will be ‘temporary,’ after the President said it would be ‘short-term,’ last spring.
The Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel scoffed at Biden’s explanation for rising consumer prices, saying: “Biden’s attempt to deflect blame is an insult to every American and small business owner struggling to afford the cost of everyday goods.”