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Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is exploring a new energy and climate legislative package that would win the support of Republican senators as a way of releasing massive funds earmarked for related spending.
In an interview with Bloomberg this week, Manchin said that if a bill gains bipartisan support in the Senate, legislators will not need budget reconciliation to greenlight the release of hundreds of billions of dollars currently blocked because of the lack of such support in Congress.
One area where the senator sees potential for agreement is in oil and gas leasing.
"You're going to have to have a leasing program that works, O.K., and making sure that leases are fair, and people are not sitting on leases," he told Bloomberg. "We need to look at all that," he said. "We haven't done that."
What the Biden administration has done in this respect was to call on Congress to penalize oil drillers who don't use the permits they have been granted.
Among Sen Manchin's other proposals are revisions to federal land policy, legislative support for oil and gas pipelines, and a boost in liquefied natural gas production, both at home and overseas, according to an unnamed source quoted by Bloomberg. Critical mineral supply is also on the agenda, according to the source.
Senator Manchin has turned into a thorn in the side of Democrats in Congress with his stiff opposition to the Build Back Better spending plan that Democrats crafted last year.
"I have always said if I can't explain it, I can't vote for it, and I can't explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion," Manchin wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal last September.
Manchin represents West Virginia—a big coal producer—and potentially has on his side other legislators from fossil fuel-reliant states from both parties.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com