I Got Arrested to Stop Manchin’s Pipeline Deal. Here’s Why.

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Climate and Energy

by Wenonah Hauter, Founder and Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

People across the country are standing up to stop the backroom fossil fuel permitting deal from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. On Thursday, I went to Capitol Hill to stand with a group of leaders in the environmental movement. Our demand: Reject the dirty pipeline deal Manchin struck during negotiations over the Inflation Reduction Act. For making that demand, we were arrested. 

Stopping Manchin’s side deal is worth it. 

A line of climate group leaders stands in front of the doors of the Senate Building in D.C., including Food and Water Watch's Wenonah Hauter.
Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter stands with our allies against Manchin’s pipeline bill on September 22. Photo courtesy Collin Rees.

The Dirty Cost of The Inflation Reduction Act

When the IRA became law in August, some hailed it as a victory in the long fight for climate action. But it contained only remnants of a more ambitious climate and economic agenda from President Biden and Congressional Democrats. And the last of those ambitions died at the feet of Joe Manchin and his Big Oil patrons.

In exchange for his tie-breaking vote to pass the IRA, Manchin extracted a promise for legislation to fast-track permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure. 

This summer, leaked details of the deal had the American Petroleum Institute written all over it — literally. An “API” watermark branded the leaked memo, and the memo itself showed just how dangerous the legislation would be.

Now, we have the text of the legislation itself. And it just confirms the danger. 

If passed, Manchin’s pipeline deal will mean more pollution and more dirty energy projects in communities already hard-hit by big environmental burdens. And it will change the National Environmental Policy Act, making it harder for regulators to do their jobs and harder for threatened communities to voice concerns about new projects.

It’s simple — and terrible. Manchin’s deal would gut environmental protections, endanger public health and silence communities. If that’s not worth getting arrested to stop, I’m not sure what is.

The Pipeline Deal Is About Money and Influence

The need for urgent action on climate is obvious. We need to stop the production and use of fossil fuels and quickly transition to clean, renewable energy. Climate chaos is the price of inaction. But Joe Manchin and the fossil fuel corporations that wield money and influence in Washington stand in the way of commonsense policy. 

Manchin claims he’s serving the interests of his constituents by roadblocking climate action. But it’s no coincidence Manchin has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel interests during his career. In fact, he’s taken more campaign cash from the industry than any sitting senator. During this election cycle alone, gas pipeline companies have given Manchin $331,000.

Yet Manchin and the powerful corporations he represents hold, at least for now, veto power over the climate agenda.  

We’re Winning The Fight Against Fossil Fuels

That’s part of the reason it’s so important to stand up against Manchin’s side deal. His one-man veto on climate policy doesn’t reflect the interests of the vast majority of people across the country — or West Virginia, for that matter.

Politics around the climate crisis have swung in favor of real action. Lawmakers are ready to back ambitious and much-needed climate proposals. And they’re ready to push back against the greed of fossil fuel interests embodied by politicians like Manchin. 

Even more importantly, the grassroots movement demanding real action grows more powerful every day. Over 700 organizations oppose the bill. There have been sit-ins at Congressional offices across the country. Scores of frontline community members from Appalachia, to the Gulf Coast, to the Midwest converged on Capitol Hill to demand that Congress reject the deal. 

Food & Water Watch has mobilized more than 8,000 calls from constituents to their representatives. And we’ve gotten 80 members of Congress to publicly oppose Manchin’s dirty deal. 

The coordinated and loud opposition to the deal shows that power is shifting. Our fight against Joe Manchin’s pipeline deal is critical, but this is about more than a single senator. 

Time is running out for the fossil fuel interests that brought us Joe Manchin and his side deal. They can arrest us, but they can’t defeat us. The climate movement will win.

Tell your senator to stop this deal!