Following weeks of controversy surrounding the potential appointment, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will be the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the appointment — and other panel appointments — Tuesday evening.
The news came less than a week after Manchin voted against Bernard McNamee, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the building of natural gas pipelines, among other things.
“Climate change is real, humans have made a significant impact, and we have the responsibility and capability to address it urgently,” Manchin later explained in a statement after he voted to advance McNamee’s nomination but later changed his mind.
Still, progressive Democrats expressed vehement opposition to the potential appointment, citing a television ad in which Manchin shot a bullet through a climate change bill.
Bill Bissett, president of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce and former Kentucky Coal Association president, said he was hopeful Manchin would balance different states’ views on energy and help “bridge the discussion.”
“Finding some compromise in D.C. right now is a challenge, but Senator Manchin has been good at that in the past,” he said.
Manchin’s been a member of the committee since he was elected to the Senate in 2010. He won his seat again last month against West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Phil Smith, spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, said Tuesday the appointment was a “great choice.”
“There’s a lot of different energy sources being produced in West Virginia, and it makes sense that someone like Joe Manchin would be ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources committee,” he said.
But he’ll still be limited in his abilities on the committee, Smith emphasized.
“The majority is still driving the agenda there. I think that got lost in some of the discussions,” he said.
Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, called Manchin a “bipartisan bridge-builder.”
“The National Wildlife Federation looks forward to working with Senator Manchin to find common ground on recovering at-risk wildlife, reducing carbon and methane pollution, restoring natural infrastructure to make communities more resilient, conserving public lands and western water, and rebuilding recreational infrastructure,” O’Mara said in a statement.