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Dark money ad falsely claims clean energy investments will cost West Virginia 100,000 jobs

The ad was produced by the tax-exempt group One Nation, which has received millions of dollars from fossil fuel companies in recent years.

By Josh Israel - April 19, 2023
Joe Manchin
President Joe Biden hands the pen he used to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) after signing into law H.R. 5376, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, in the White House, August 16, 2022 in Washington DC. (Photo by Ken Cedeno/Sipa USA via AP Images)

A dark money group with a history of taking oil and gas industry donations has launched a seven-figure ad campaign attacking Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) for voting for the Inflation Reduction Act. The spots falsely suggest that every fossil fuel-related job in West Virginia could be lost as a result of the nation’s shift to clean power.

On Wednesday, Politico reported that One Nation, a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) group closely linked with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is spending more than $1 million to attack Manchin over his vote for the act. The group is an offshoot of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS organizations, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help elect Republicans in the early 2010s.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in 2022, invested $369 billion in energy and climate change infrastructure; dedicated $64 billion to extend Affordable Care Act health insurance subsidies; lowered the cost of prescription drugs and insulin for millions of Medicare beneficiaries; and reduced the national budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

In the spot, a narrator says: “A hundred thousand West Virginia jobs are at risk thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin falling in line with D.C. liberals to pass Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. Biden and Manchin’s IRA will supercharge the U.S. moving away from fossil fuels.”

In small print, the 100,000-jobs figure is sourced to “WVU, 2021; API, 2021.”

West Virginia University tracks energy sector jobs in West Virginia and estimated in 2021 that about 11,700 people in the state worked in coal industry jobs.

API refers to the American Petroleum Institute, the trade association for the nation’s oil and gas industry. It released a report in July 2021 that estimated the oil and natural gas industry directly employs 32,230 people in West Virginia and impacts a total of 81,960 jobs.

But the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy investments have already boosted energy sector employment in West Virginia, including the creation of thousands of new natural gas industry positions.

The company Competitive Power Ventures said in late 2022 that it would invest $3 billion in building a natural gas-fired power plant in Doddridge County, West Virginia, bringing 2,000 jobs. The project will feature carbon capture technology and will be partially funded by the new law’s Section 45Q tax credits.

Battery manufacturer Form Energy announced last December that it will build an iron-air battery manufacturing plant in Weirton, West Virginia, with the help of incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Biden administration has estimated that the law will make rebates available for hundreds of thousands of West Virginia families who buy new energy-efficient electric appliances, solar panels, and electric vehicles and will bring $240 million in large-scale clean power generation and storage investments to the state by 2030.

The American Petroleum Institute disclosed in its 2019 tax filing that it donated at least $1 million to One Nation that year for research and general support. While One Nation does not disclose its donors, research by the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington found that the group has also taken millions of dollars from large oil and gas corporations in recent years, including Andeavor, ConocoPhillips, and Southern Company.

Manchin has not announced whether he plans to seek reelection in 2024.

Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who served as a Maryland state senator until 2011, has announced a bid for Manchin’s Senate seat. Term-limited Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a former billionaire who recently announced plans to sell his family’s coal business to cover debts, is also reportedly likely to run.

“West Virginians know Joe Manchin’s work has decreased the deficit and made prescription drugs more affordable. One Nation should save their cash for a bloody primary that will pit Club for Growth’s carpetbagger against Mitch McConnell’s ethically challenged pick,” Sarah Guggenheimer, a spokesperson for the Democratic-aligned Senate Majority PAC, told Politico on Wednesday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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