Sen. Manchin Criticizes Biden Administration’s Pushing of ESG Rules to Phase Out Fossil Fuels

By Michael Washburn
Michael Washburn
Michael Washburn
Michael Washburn was a New York-based reporter who covered U.S. and China-related topics for The Epoch Times. He has a background in legal and financial journalism, and also writes about arts and culture. Additionally, he is the host of the weekly podcast Reading the Globe. His books include “The Uprooted and Other Stories,” “When We're Grownups,” and “Stranger, Stranger.”
February 3, 2023Updated: February 3, 2023

Sen. Joe Manchin (D.-W.Va.) on Thursday delivered a sharp rebuke to a new Department of Labor (DOL) rule that he and GOP lawmakers believe encourages the investment of retirement money not according to traditional criteria of maximizing profits but instead in accordance with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards.

Speaking on a segment of “America’s Newsroom” alongside Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Manchin railed against the Biden administration rule that went into effect this week. Braun is the author of a disapproval resolution filed in response to the rule and enjoying the support of every GOP member of the Senate along with Manchin.

Manchin argued that carbon emissions have already been significantly reduced through adherence to ESG criteria and that the DOL’s new rule is both premature and dangerous to the nation’s economic health and self-sufficiency.

“Why don’t they look at the geopolitical risk that’s involved? Why don’t you evaluate that too? Why don’t you ask Europe what’s happened to them? Ask Germany what’s happened to their economy. Look at what Putin did to weaponize energy,” Manchin said.

“The geopolitical risk should be evaluated the same as anything else because the fallout would be, if you’re trying to put pressure and get rid of fossil [fuel] before we have anything to replace it, you are going to damage our economy and make our country much weaker.”

Manchin characterized himself as a fighter for energy security.

Epoch Times Photo
Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) speaks during a Senate Special Committee of Aging hearing on “The COVID-19 Pandemic and Seniors: A Look at Racial Health Disparities” at the Capitol in Washington on July 21, 2020. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

For his part, Braun cited a five-year study finding a 2.5 percent differential between the financial results obtained by investing on the basis of ESG standards as opposed to the more traditional criteria that ask what strategies would bring the greatest profits for investors.

“It affects 152 million Americans in their retirement 401Ks, about $12 trillion,” Braun said.

“Do the math, 2.5 percent on $12 trillion, you should not be burdened with trying to push any political agenda where you’re going to impact the hard earnings that you give to someone else in trust that you’re going to make the right decision,” he said.

“To me it’s shameful and it’s a heavy overreach that you get from the federal government.”

Braun said that his resolution seeking to revoke the new rule is the only means available to him and like-minded lawmakers in the face of such overreach, which he called an example of “government gone wild.”

‘When the Market’s Ready’

Manchin expanded on his argument that the country is not ready for the immediate elimination of fossil fuels and the widespread adoption of other sources of energy.

“They’re trying to accelerate getting rid of fossil. The market will tell you when there’s something to replace the fossil and the horsepower that comes from the coal, the gas, and the oil that we do cleaner than anywhere else in the world,” Manchin said.

“The market will move when the market’s ready to move and replace it. We’re not ready yet, and for the administration to move in and accelerate that before we’re ready just puts the economy in jeopardy and also the return on investments that people need for their retirement.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the DOL for comment.

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