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POLITICS: PennAve

Joe Manchin votes against new EPA head, cites ‘fight’ with Obama

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The lone Democrat to oppose the confirmation of the Environmental Protection Agency director Thursday said he voted against the pick because of his issues with President Obama’s energy agenda.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he found new EPA Secretary Gina McCarthy to be “earnest, friendly, pragmatic and incredibly intelligent” and described her as someone who “dedicated her life to public service, serving under Democrats and Republicans alike.” But Manchin voted against her anyway because of a rift with the leader of his party over coal.

“My fight is not with her. My fight is with President Obama and the EPA, the regulatory agency that has consistently placed unreasonable regulations and unobtainable standards on energy production, rather than focus on efforts to develop a domestic all-of-the-above energy strategy for the future,” Manchin said in a statement following the vote.

But while Manchin said his beef isn’t with McCarthy, he clearly does not see eye-to-eye with her views on environmental protection. His statement after the vote eviscerated her tenure as an assistant administrator in the EPA’s air and radiation division.

“She has been responsible for overseeing some of EPA’s most unreasonable and restrictive proposals,” Manchin said. “Because of this, I do not believe she is the leader who we are looking for to make this all-of-the-above plan a reality.”

McCarthy was confirmed with support from 59 Senators, including six Republicans, while 39 Republicans and Manchin voted against her.

Manchin, who famously aired a commercial where he shot through a copy of  a cap and trade energy bill in a 2010 campaign ad for Senate, has often voiced his displeasure with the Obama administration. As the former governor and junior senator from coal-rich West Virginia, he also took to the Senate floor Thursday to defend the coal industry.

“We must develop a national energy policy that uses all of our vast resources — coal, gas, oil, as well as wind, hydro, solar, biomass and nuclear,” Manchin said. “We must invest in technologies that will allow us to use our resources in the cleanest and most efficient ways possible.”

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