A Pendulum Shift in Washington on Energy Policy; Trump and Twitter
April 26, 2022
MODERATE SEN. JOE MANCHIN, the West Virginia Democrat, convened a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers last night, teaming with fossil fuels advocate Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican. Several influential moderates from both parties were in attendance.
MANCHIN HAS SEVERAL KEY OBJECTIVES: he wants more drilling on federal land, more spending on infrastructure to export fossil fuels like natural gas, and approval of new pipelines — including the Keystone pipeline, which was killed by President Biden. In exchange, Manchin theoretically would support clean energy tax credits.
THE IDEA OF GREATER RELIANCE ON FOSSIL FUELS has enraged the country’s Green activists, who are defecting away from Biden and the Democrats (but the environmentalists have no place to go). The November election is taking precedence among Democrats, who fear a landslide defeat in the House and possibly a narrow loss of the Senate as well.
A FOSSIL FUELS DEAL still faces obstacles, including whether the objectives would be achieved via executive action (a potential humiliation for Biden) or through legislation, perhaps as part of a “mini” Build Back Better bill that also would include some social spending. It could be weeks before these details are ironed out.
BUT IT’S NOW CLEAR THAT SEVERAL DEMOCRATS are willing to work on a deal, and the mood on Capitol Hill is that surging energy prices and the need to help supply western Europe will dominate debate in Washington. Fossil fuels are making a comeback.
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DONALD TRUMP AND TWITTER: The former president is seemingly everywhere — the major player in new tell-all books, eagerly sought for his GOP endorsements, held in contempt by a New York judge, and now the subject of intense speculation over his willingness to rejoin Twitter.
TRUMP’S TWITTER CLONE, called “Truth Social,” has stumbled out of the gate, with management and financial problems, yet he has insisted that he has no interest in re-joining Twitter. Many Washington insiders are skeptical.
TWITTER BANNED TRUMP after the Jan. 6 riots, leading to charges of censorship by his supporters. He had 89 million followers on Twitter. The ex-president has spoken highly of Elon Musk, who insisted yesterday that he wants unfettered free speech.
DESPITE HIS GROWING LEGAL PROBLEMS, Trump has told top allies that he will run for president (we still have our doubts). The potential to re-acquire nearly 90 million followers will become irresistible ahead of the 2024 election, and we think some sort of deal with Musk is likely later this year.
ONE THING IS CERTAIN: Twitter will be in the spotlight in Washington, with hearings virtually weekly as Democrats use their slim majorities to claim that Musk will allow hate speech. It’s also likely that regulatory agencies — including antitrust officials — will look carefully at the deal, but that may be little more than headline risk for the giant company.
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