America's largest coal miners union asks Manchin to reconsider opposition to Build Back Better

America’s largest coal miners union asks Manchin to reconsider opposition to Build Back Better

Coal miners are imploring Senator Joe Manchin to reconsider his opposition to the Build Back Better Act, citing components of the laws that may profit trade staff.

“[W]e are disappointed that the bill will not pass,” Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Staff of America Worldwide, mentioned in a statement. “We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.”

In accordance to the union, components of the invoice that may assist coal trade staff embrace tax incentives to encourage clean-energy firms to construct services in coalfields; an extension of charges paid by coal firms to staff who contract Black Lung; and monetary penalties for firms that block their workforce from unionizing.

Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, mentioned on Sunday that he could not help the laws, an bold package deal of social insurance policies together with prolonging the Youngster Tax Credit score, increasing Medicare to cowl extra providers, instituting paid worker go away, subsidizing youngster care and early-childhood training and investing in clear vitality.

“Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation,” Manchin mentioned in a statement.

Manchin’s opposition, together with that of Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D.-Arizona, successfully scuttles the Biden administration’s hopes of passing Build Back Better by year-end.

Amongst Manchin’s objections are that the invoice would “risk the reliability of our electric grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains,” he mentioned. Manchin additionally claimed that shifting to clear vitality too shortly would lead to “catastrophic consequences,” citing Texas and California as examples of states experiencing vitality points. 

Scientists say that the world has lower than a decade to remove greenhouse fuel emissions from burning fossil fuels, industrial processes and agriculture so as to keep away from the worst results of local weather change.

Final yr, the miners’ union endorsed a plan to transition to clear vitality whereas retraining coal miners for clean-energy jobs, saying, “Change is coming, whether we seek it or not.” The union’s program contains retraining displaced coal staff, constructing out clean-energy services in coalfields, and investing in carbon seize and storage know-how.

After the UMWA’s critique, Manchin’s workplace advised CBS MoneyWatch that the senator helps extending black lung advantages, pointing to his efforts to safe a 10-year extension of the black lung excise tax. With out legislative motion, the tax on coal will drop by half subsequent yr, pushing the Black Lung Incapacity Belief Fund that pays for affected miners’ well being advantages additional into debt.

“Senator Manchin has always been a strong advocate for the UMWA and led legislation to address the black lung excise tax expiration. He will of course continue to work to shore up the black lung excise tax in the New Year to address the needs of our brave miners,” a spokesperson for the senator mentioned in an announcement.

About 14,000 West Virginians labored in coal extraction final yr, in accordance to the U.S. Power and Employment Report. Nationwide, about 130,000 individuals work in coal mines or coal-fired energy crops. By comparability, greater than 350,000 work in photo voltaic or wind energy technology, though only a few of these staff are in West Virginia. 

A lot of Manchin’s private wealth is linked to coal. In accordance to OpenSecrets, which tracks cash in politics, he made about $5 million from coal firms over the previous decade. In 2020, he made between $591,950 and $1.5 million from Energystems, a coal brokerage firm Manchin based and ran, and had holdings of between $1.4 million and $5.8 million in coal firms, OpenSecrets found.

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