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Senate flip elevates Manchin to Energy chair

WASHINGTON — With Georgia going blue in Tuesday’s Senate runoff and giving the Democratic Party the majority leader in the U.S. Senate, Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will become the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Manchin has spent the previous two years as the Ranking Member of the Democratic Committee Members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and will replace current Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action Chairman Eric Engle said Manchin is the right person for the job due to his previous history of being vocal about using new ways for West Virginia to gather energy and natural resources.

“He’s been very dedicated to conservation, very dedicated to West Virginia’s public lands, his support of the great outdoors act and things of that nature. I think that he will be someone that we can work closely with on things like energy efficiency, conservation, investment in renewable energies, and energy storage,” Engle said.

Engle also said that both West Virginia and the Mid-Ohio Valley have the resources and infrastructure to store servers, warehouses or construction facilities, and production facilities in the transition to renewable sources.

From the open acres of land in the state or to use federal or state funds to make it possible, this focus will also allow West Virginia to bring high-paying union jobs in-state as well, according to Engle.

“A lot of the infrastructure is in place right now. The labor is here, when we talk about good union jobs being created here, we need labor from the state. We don’t need to bring out-of-state players in here and do this work. The work is available for West Virginians, and it needs to go to West Virginians,” Engle said. “The projects can begin later this year, or next year, there’s no reason. A lot of them are already shovel ready, we can start making these infrastructural changes and investments right now.”

Engle said switching to energy efficiency upgrades on current city buildings will create jobs as well. From installing solar grids on building roofs and capping oil wells, as the state has a lot of uncapped oil and natural gas wells that are leaking methane and air pollution.

The MOVCA is a nonpartisan group focused on raising awareness of science supporting the urgency of dealing with global climate change by presenting educational programs and participating in local campaigns.

“We’re willing to work with anyone who can make this happen. If we need some Republicans to sign on, which we likely still will. We hope to get that,” Engle said. “Senator Manchin will be in a position to get that and work with the minority party. We’re just happy with this new administration and new Congress, we feel like we can make some more progress.”

Contact Tyler Bennett at tbennnett@newsandsentinel.com

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