- The Washington Times - Friday, March 5, 2021

Sen. Joe Manchin III on Friday knocked President Biden for canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and urged environmental activists and fellow Democrats to make peace with oil and natural gas pipelines.

“We need to come to grips with facts,” said Mr. Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I’ve said this, ‘everybody is entitled to their opinion, they’re just not entitled to create [their] own facts to support their own opinion.”

Mr. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who is his party’s most conservative member in Senate, said pipelines are the safest alternative to transporting large amounts of crude oil and natural gas, which the U.S. economy heavily relies upon.

“I’ve seen the devastating effects [of transporting oil and gas] by rail and by road, and a pipeline is the best way to move this product,” he said. “And it’s going to come in, we need that heavy crude.”

Mr. Biden on his first day in the Oval Office revoked permits for the Keystone XL, which would extend the pipeline to carry 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada, to refiners on the Texas Gulf.

The decision was heralded by climate change groups, who say the pipeline would harm the environment. Republicans blasted the move for killing American jobs and threatening energy independence.

Mr. Manchin also stressed the impact of U.S. energy policy on geopolitical concerns. The senator said it is better to import energy from Canada than from countries such as Venezuela that are “oppressing their people.”

“I would hope my environmentalists understand that and work with us in a very progressive way to make sure we are transporting this product in the safest and cleanest fashion,” he said.

As the new chairman of the energy committee, Mr. Manchin walks a tight rope on environmental issues. While the senator has publicly admonished the Biden administration for moving away from an “all of the above” energy strategy, he resists making the matter a dividing line.

Earlier this month, Mr. Manchin announced his support for Mr. Biden’s pick of Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico for secretary of the interior, despite stiff GOP opposition over her environmental activism against Keystone XL and the natural gas extraction method known as fracking.

Still, Mr. Biden’s decision to cancel Keystone XL drew criticism mostly from Republicans. Democrats mostly rallied around the president.

Last month, Mr. Manchin was joined by one other Senate Democrat in supporting GOP legislation to restart the construction of the pipeline.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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