When it comes to clean energy and climate policy, Senator Joe Manchin has been a driving force and lead negotiator for many of the most consequential pieces of legislation passed by the US Congress – namely the Energy Act of 2020 and this year’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. For this, we are very grateful and thank Senator Manchin for his leadership in creating a clean energy future.
But even with this historic progress, a significant gap remains between reality and the healthy and secure future our children and communities truly deserve. For this reason, we are extremely disappointed in Senator Manchin’s announcement that he is stepping away from negotiations on the Build Back Better Act.
The lives and livelihoods of West Virginians are already threatened by climate change and a lack of clean energy. Heat wave days fueled by global warming are increasing faster in West Virginia than nearly anywhere else in the country, putting more than 60,000 vulnerable West Virginians squarely in harm’s way for heat-related illness and death. Nationwide, West Virginia has the highest percentage of homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure – such as power stations, roads, and police and fire stations – at substantial risk of being rendered inoperable by climate-fueled flooding. Over 78,000 West Virginian students, who live and go to school near oil and gas facilities, are exposed to toxic air pollution linked to life-choking childhood asthma as well as stillbirths and birth defects in unborn babies.
As pro-life Christians who care for the abundant life Jesus promises for all, allowing these threats to life to persist is simply unacceptable.
The climate and clean energy measures in the Build Back Better Act will not only defend and preserve our children’s health but also revitalize communities in West Virginia and across the country with the return of industry and economic opportunity to towns left behind in the last energy transition – the methane gas boom.
We urge Senator Manchin to not leave American energy workers and their families unsupported in the changing energy marketplace and to do all he can to ensure the transformative climate and clean energy investments included in the Build Back Better Act are passed without delay. The health and future of West Virginia’s children – as well as the hope of family-sustaining clean energy jobs for their parents – cannot wait.
We call all parties to come back together at the negotiating table to find a way to close the gap – either through Build Back Better or in a different form. Now is not the time to turn our backs on our children’s health, our community’s safety, and God’s creation.