Clean energy stocks fall: Could a senator getting $500K annually from coal companies be to blame?

Shares of clean energy stocks fell Friday on concerns that the Build Back Better Act will now not pass due to a lack of support from Senator Joe Machin III of West Virginia. Could a conflict of interest arise again?

What happened: Manchin told Senate Democrats he will not support economic packages that include new spending on climate change, according to a report by The Washington Post.

“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation rises to 9.1 percent,” said Manchin spokesman Sam Runyon. “Senator Manchin believes it is time for leaders to set aside political agendas, re-evaluate and adapt to the economic realities facing the country, to avoid taking steps that would fuel the inflation fire .”

Manchin recently came on board to back the bill with several trade-offs and now leaves Democrats with a major setback to push the bill through Congress. The bill will likely require the support of all 50 Democrats, due to a lack of interest in support from Republicans.

The West Virginia senator chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which helps regulate the industry.

Related Link: Nancy Pelosi Trades These 3 Tech Stocks: How She Gained $1.8M on $110,000

Why it’s important: A clean energy bill can boost sectors like solar and wind, as well as reduce reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. This is where the potential conflict can come into play.

“I’m finding that there’s a lot of language in places where they’re eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing, because if you put your head in the sand and say fossil (fuel) needs to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it.” , and thinking that will clear up the global climate, it won’t clear it at all,” Manchin said.

Manchin founded a coal company in 1998 that is now known as Enersystems. Manchin has said he has no control over the family business, which is now run by his son Joe Manchin IV.

However, a Senate financial disclosure report filed in May 2021 found that Manchin received $491,949 for the year from Enersystems. The filing said the payment was for “contract services and material supplier to utilities.” The filing reveals that Manchin has a $1 million to $5 million stake in the company.

Manchin has put forward items over the years that support the coal industry.

A report by Electrek shows that Manchin also receives numerous political action committee donations from oil and gas companies, including many from outside his home state of West Virginia. The report also shows that Manchin has earned $4.35 million in inventory in Enersystems since 2012.

While Manchin has denied that his interest in the coal industry has influenced policy making for the energy sector, critics see a potential conflict of interest.

Manchin’s move to withdraw support for additional government spending on clean energy could support an appeal to members of Congress not to buy and sell stocks or own ownership interests in companies that could create conflicts of interest.

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