West Virginia Republicans bashed the Inflation Reduction Act, but it's helping their state

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Both Gov. Jim Justice and Rep. Alex Mooney opposed the historic climate and health care legislation that is providing funding for energy projects in West Virginia.

West Virginians are already reaping the benefits from President Joe Biden's 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which included a $369 billion investment in energy and climate change infrastructure. But two prominent Republican officeholders both strongly opposed the package: Rep. Alex Mooney, who in November announced a 2024 bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Joe Manchin, and term-limited Gov. Jim Justice, who is also mulling a Senate campaign.

Senate Democrats passed the bill in August by a 51-50 party-line vote. Manchin helped write and voted for the bill; West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito voted no. A week later it was approved by the House by a vote of 220-207, again strictly along party lines.

In addition to voting no, Mooney said the bill, which included hundreds of billions of dollars for measures to reduce the deficit, would "accelerate the inflation crisis created by President Biden."

In a July 31 op-ed published in the Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register and on Mooney's official website, he slammed Manchin's support for the bill: "The completely misleadingly named 'Inflation Reduction Act of 2022' is loaded with tax hikes on job creators that will raise prices, lower wages, and reduce job creation. … Make no mistake, Sen. Manchin is betraying West Virginia and destroying our economy."

Justice appeared on Fox News Radio on Sept. 19 and blasted the bill, predicting that it would fuel a massive Republican wave in the midterm elections: "But really, truly, I have no clue, no clue how anybody could sit back and try to defend what's going on in D.C. today from the standpoint you've got people all across this nation that are really hurting on this inflation deal," he said. "And this midterm deal is gonna be a whitewash for them."

Since that time, at least two new manufacturing plants have been announced in West Virginia thanks in part to funding under the law.

In December, Competitive Power Ventures said that a natural gas-fired power plant that it had announced in September would be located in Doddridge County, and that the company would invest $3 billion in the project, construction of which would result in jobs for 2,000 skilled workers. The project will use carbon capture technology and will be funded in part through the Inflation Reduction Act's Section 45Q tax credits.

That same month, Form Energy announced it will build an iron-air battery manufacturing plant in Weirton, creating at least 750 full-time jobs. It too will be partially supported by the Inflation Reduction Act's incentives.

Manchin celebrated the announcement, saying, "West Virginia continues to be a leader in energy innovation, and the good-paying jobs and new economic opportunities this will bring are exactly what I had in mind as I negotiated the Inflation Reduction Act."

Spokespeople for Justice and Mooney did not immediately respond to an American Independent Foundation inquiry for this story.

Despite his opposition to the legislation, Justice endorsed both projects.

"This is an outstanding day for West Virginia," Justice said in September. "We welcome them to West Virginia and will continue to support this excellent company as we compete on the world-stage to recruit the best to our great state. I couldn't be more proud."

"Weirton is long overdue for some incredible news," he said in December of the Form Energy plant. "Resiliency and reliability of power resources for America will be produced in West Virginia, once again, allowing Weirton to be a national leader of this growing industry."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.