Corporate lobbyists and executives who managed to get the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) added to the new debt-limit deal work for companies that gave money to the members of Congress who helped them out, campaign filings show.
The CEO of Equitrans Midstream, an MVP stakeholder, along with an oil-industry lobbyist who used to be chief of staff to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), MVP’s most vocal congressional booster, both met with staffers for Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) during the last days of negotiations, to get the MVP language into the bill, the Washington Post reported.
According to the Post, Manchin himself was recruited by Republicans to help talk with the White House.
Both Miller and Manchin have gotten donations from Equitrans and NextEra Energy, an MVP stakeholder in which Equitrans has a majority share.
The Post reported that Equitrans CEO Thomas Karam and American Petroleum Institute (API) lobbyist Lance West met with Miller’s staffers in the final negotiations.
Equitrans is a member of API and reportedly is the majority shareholder in NextEra Energy, which is part owner in the MVP. West is Manchin’s former chief of staff.
As first reported by Bloomberg, API apparently drafted the first iteration of legislation last year to fast-track energy-project permitting over community opposition.
West, who downplayed his involvement in the debt-limit talks, told the Washington Post, “I’m just a man in a lobbying job like any other. [...] I meet with everybody about permitting reform.”
Equitrans said it is “grateful for the full support of the White House, as well as the strong leadership of Democratic and Republican legislators for recognizing the Mountain Valley Pipeline as a critical energy infrastructure project,” according to the Post.
Manchin, who has tried and failed three times to rush through legislation to fast-track energy permitting projects, received a combined $79,350 in donations from NextEra Energy and Equitrans Midstream and their executives from 2018-2022, according to campaign finance records.
According to data from the Federal Election Commission, Manchin got a total of $52,950 from NextEra executives during the first quarter of last year, and $8500 in NextEra Energy Political Action Campaign (PAC) money. And he received $15,000 from the Equitrans Midstream Corporation PAC, with an additional $2900 coming from an Equitrans senior manager.
Campaign filings show that Miller received $9500 from the NextEra Energy PAC from 2019-2023.
In exchange for backing Biden's Inflation Reduction Act last year, Sen. Maj. Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised Manchin completion of the MVP, which will transport natural gas over 300 miles from West Virginia to Virginia, along with permitting changes that will severely limit community input on future and potentially harmful energy projects.
Despite pushback from Democratic lawmakers and the environmental justice movement, the debt limit deal, including the MVP provisions, passed the House Wednesday night 317-114, with defections from both parties.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who has voiced his anger regarding Biden’s lack of communication around the MVP mandate, has said he would file an amendment to strike the MVP from the debt limit legislation -- citing Clean Water Act violations and concerns from landowners over landslides caused by the project.
The bill could get a Senate vote as early as Friday.
TYT Washington Correspondent Candice Cole was previously a correspondent and senior White House producer for the Black News Channel and has worked at a number of local news outlets. You can find her on Twitter @CandiceColeNews.