Arrests as protesters blockade West Virginia coal plant where Senator Joe Manchin makes $500,000 a year

The Democratic senator has opposed Biden’s $2 trillion spending package which contains an array of measures to tackle the climate crisis

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent, New York
Sunday 10 April 2022 13:33 BST
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More than a dozen people have been detained as hundreds of activists gathered in West Virginia to blockade a coal plant which earns the state’s Senator Joe Manchin around half a million dollars a year.

The West Virginia Rising coalition said it intended to hold a non-violent protest at the Grant Town Coal Waste Power Plant on Saturday, 9th April, dubbing it “The Coal Baron Blockade”.

The Times West Virginian said that 16 protesters had been arrested.

Mr Manchin made nearly $492,000 in business income from Enersystems Inc., a company based in Fairmont, West Virgina, according to a 2020 disclosure filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. There is no evidence that this breaks any laws.

The Independent has contacted Senator Manchin’s office for comment.

Police lead people away who are chained together during a protest against Senator Joe Manchin as they blockade the Grant Town Coal Waste Power Plant in Grant Town, West Virginia (REUTERS)

Enersystems, which is run by the senator’s son Joseph Manchin IV, supplies“gob” to the Grant Town Power Plant. “Gob” – meaning “garbage of bituminous” – is coal waste and more inefficient than coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels.

Democrat Mr Manchin’s opposition to President Joe Biden’s 10-year, $2 trillion spending package, which contains an array of measures to tackle the climate crisis, doomed the proposal in the 50-50 US Senate, where no Republicans are expected to cross party lines to support it. Mr Manchin said the plan, which had already been approved in the House, would cause inflation to rise and deepen deficits.

The West Virginia coalition alleges that in his previous role as Governor of West Virginia, Mr Manchin kept the Grant Town coal plant in business and raised rates on residents in the state, among the poorest in the nation.

“Manchin is a part of the system that has never served any West Virginians,” Blake Thomas, a West Virginian and member of the environmental coalition, told The Independent. “It can’t go on. This is us fighting back.”

Maria Gunnoe, a Cherokee native and coal miner-descendant West Virginian, also said: “Joe Manchin has spent his career making a very lucrative living off the backs of West Virginians while talking about how resilient we are.

The Grant Town Power Plant in West Virginia (Kidus Girma)

“West Virginians are tired of struggling only to see others prosper. We deserve opportunities to build a future that our kids can be proud of.”

The latest warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global authority on the climate crisis, says that the world has less than three years to reverse course on the carbon emissions cooking the planet.

It found that “immediate and deep” emissions cuts must be made across every sector of society - ditching fossil fuels that are driving the crisis, and ramping up clean energy like wind and solar, along with widespread electrification and improved energy efficiency.

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