- The Washington Times - Friday, October 29, 2021

An interfaith group in the home state of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III plans to hold a Day of Prayer on Monday, urging him to support government efforts to slow climate change.

The group, West Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, said Friday it will sponsor the event on All Saints’ Day. It said it wants the country to “move decisively and with haste” toward renewable energy. And as Mr. Manchin is the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, he has “been given the public trust to act for the common good.” They say he also has “a unique and special burden for moral and political leadership.” 

Mr. Manchin, who represents a coal-producing state, recently nixed a carbon tax and President Biden’s Clean Electricity Performance Program — which would have given incentives to companies that switch to renewable energy and penalize those that don’t — from the president’s $3.5 trillion spending package being negotiated in Congress. 

Mr. Manchin, a centrist, has been at the center of the negotiations since Democrats need all 50 of their members in the evenly divided Senate to back the legislation as they try to pass it without any Republican support using a budget process called reconciliation. Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote. 

Now some of Mr. Manchin‘s constituents are taking him to task.

“I am deeply concerned about the accelerating effects of climate change, both in West Virginia and around the globe. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, I am fervently praying that Senator Manchin supports the full Build Back Better agenda. West Virginia desperately needs the jobs and infrastructure improvements that would result from passage of that plan,” the Rev. Robin Blakeman, a member of the group’s steering committee, said in a statement. Ms. Blakeman is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Rev. Jeff Allen, a United Methodist who serves as executive director of the West Virginia Council of Churches, said Mr. Manchin “is in an unprecedented situation in which his vote will affect the lives of generations to come. We pray that he will use that vote for the common good of all humanity. At the same time, he is also in a unique position to enable a just, true, and timely transition for the coalfield communities that have given so much over the years.”

The group’s statement noted “increasingly frequent and costly climate disasters” hitting the state. In February, they pointed out that “several counties” in the state’s southwest were hit with an ice storm that damaged trees and caused weeks of power outages “during below-freezing temperatures.” In 2016, flooding destroyed homes and killed 23 people in Greenbriar County.

The Washington Times contacted Mr. Manchin‘s press office to request a response to the day of prayer plans.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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