West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s refusal to negotiate legislation to curb climate change will harm New York’s Adirondack Park as well as the growing clean-manufacturing economy in nearby Plattsburgh, according to the Adirondack Council.
The Council called on New York State government to intensify its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and called on the state’s voters to approve the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Bond Act on the ballot November 8th.
The organization also called on the Biden administration to act on climate via executive order and administrative rulemaking. The organization said that actions taken this way are more vulnerable to legal challenges than new laws are, and often take many years to bring to completion.
Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States narrowed the authority of federal environmental officials to issue rules that combat climate change, saying Congressional direction was needed. Congress has failed to act. In addition, budget cuts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Manchin helped to orchestrate have resulted in the shutdown of dozens of air quality monitors nationwide, four of them in Upstate New York.
“Because of Senator Joe Manchin’s refusal negotiate legislation on carbon, the EPA doesn’t have the support it needs to take timely action and it lacks the money to measure the damage that occurs if the nation fails to act,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “His refusal to negotiate with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer will delay solutions to the climate crisis and prolong the damage climate change is doing in every corner of the United States.”
“Here in the Adirondacks, our cold-water fish that we have saved from acid rain are again in grave danger from rising temperatures,” said Janeway. “Safe living space for rare wildlife is shifting northward and upslope, leaving some animals stranded when their new territory includes a road, someone’s house or a community. The same in true in West Virginia.
“In Plattsburgh, investors are in the process of building a new, clean-energy manufacturing facility that will construct electric school buses, taking advantage of new climate goals in the New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” Janeway said. “If we had federal legislation to create the same goals, that plant could be adding thousands of jobs, not just the hundreds everyone is excited to welcome.
“In West Virginia, people want new, cleaner jobs in the energy sector,” said Adirondack Council Clean Air Specialist John Sheehan. “Manchin isn’t just propping up the coal industry by delaying national action on carbon emissions. He is propping up oil and gas too. He has benefited by doing both. According to recent media reports, Senator Manchin made $5 million from coal between 2010 and 2020. But he also took more campaign donations from oil and gas lobbyists than any other member of Congress over the past year. While he profits, important investments aren’t being made.”
West Virginia’s air quality is often worse than New York’s. But the Council believes that Manchin’s sabotage of the EPA’s budget means it will be harder for officials in the Northeast to prove in court that emissions reductions are needed. By eliminating funding for the air quality monitoring equipment and the people who run them, the Council says Manchin and his allies are aiming to make the problem invisible.
“His claim that the economy is too weak for these investments just rings hollow,” said Sheehan. “This is exactly what is needed to help spur new jobs in manufacturing.”
The Council said that nationwide, the bill that Senator Schumer was negotiating along with the Biden administration would have created more than 750,000 clean energy manufacturing jobs like those in Plattsburgh. That would have done a great deal to combat inflation and drive down fuel costs, Sheehan said. When all school buses stop using diesel fuel – and they will, in time – supply will skyrocket and prices will fall, according to Sheehan.
New York’s Adirondack Park is a 9,300-square mile preserve of public and private lands comprising the largest park in the contiguous United States. It protects the world’s largest intact temperate deciduous forest, more than 11,000 lakes and ponds, and 30,000 miles of rivers, brooks and streams. It is situated in a unique transition zone between Appalachian hardwood forests and Canadian/Siberian boreal forests or taiga, which are dominated by spruce and fir forests and wet, mossy soils and grow in more extreme cold climates.