Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Joe Manchin leaves the U.S. Capitol

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) enters his car after participating in a vote at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Manchin Opposes Fueling US Electric Vehicle Revolution Because... the 1970s Oil Crisis

"Tell us you don't know how electric vehicles work without telling us you don't know how electric vehicles work."

Jessica Corbett

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin came under fire Monday after his recent remarks about government support for electric vehicles made the rounds on social media and suggested that the West Virginia Democrat—known for sabotaging his own party's agenda—either doesn't understand how EVs work or believes he can get away with misleading comments about them.

"Did he get these talking points directly from the oil lobby?"

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell noted in a tweet that Manchin told an energy conference in Texas on Friday that "I'm very reluctant to go down the path of electric vehicles... I'm old enough to remember standing in line in 1974 trying to buy gas—I remember those days. I don't want to have to be standing in line waiting for a battery for my vehicle, because we're now dependent on a foreign supply chain—mostly China."

While the final version of the infrastructure bill that Manchin championed and President Joe Biden signed last year included $7.5 billion to boost EV ownership and charging capacity nationwide, the senator also criticized Democrats' efforts to increase that investment to $85 billion, saying that he has "a hard time understanding" the use of public money for such efforts.

Some critics suggested Manchin truly doesn't get how electric vehicles work. While there is a variety of EVs, from conventional and plug-in hybrids to fuel cell cars to battery electric vehicles, BEVs are powered by batteries that are built into the cars and recharged with grid electricity.

"This is Manchin telling us he's ignorant without telling us he's ignorant OR he's gaslighting," tweeted Paul Cicchini, the public information officer for the Illinois Department of Labor.

Tech reporter Sam Biddle said that "this is clearly disingenuous on his part but it seems possible that Manchin thinks electric cars take like, a bunch of disposable D batteries," similar to a handheld gaming console.

University of Denver political scientist Seth Masket compared Manchin's remarks to former President Donald Trump's 2019 rant against wind power. As Masket put it: "The difference between this argument and Trump's claims that windmills kill birds is that windmills have likely killed a few birds."

Others took the statements as Manchin—who's faced criticism for having contact with an ExxonMobil lobbyist and profiting from the coal industry—standing up for fossil fuels.

"Did he get these talking points directly from the oil lobby?" asked Tim Fullerton, who served as a digital strategist in the Obama administration.

Sawyer Hackett, co-host of the Our America podcast with former presidential candidate and Obama administration official Julián Castro, put the senator's comments in the context of Big Oil cashing in on current global conditions.

"Gas prices are at a record high RIGHT NOW because we're dependent on oil companies that gouge us at the first sign of inflation or a minor loss in supply," he said. "Manchin sounds like a spokesperson for Big Oil."

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) noted Manchin's ties to the fossil fuel industry and how it may relate to his political positions:

Ryan Cooper, managing editor of The American Prospect, also highlighted Manchin's track record of killing the Biden administration's legislative goals—most notably, the House-approved Build Back Better Act that was designed to deliver on some of the president's climate pledges.

"Manchin has more power than all but like 10 people on Earth," Cooper said, "and he's using it to kill the Biden agenda with incoherent, constantly changing excuses."

This post has been updated with comment from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Bloodbath': At Least 6 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Mass Shooting at Illinois July 4th Parade

"What freedom do we have if we fear being gunned down at a parade?" asked one progressive politician horrified by the reported carnage.

Brett Wilkins ·


On This July 4th, Abortion Rights Movement Says 'We're Not in the Mood for Fireworks'

"If we don’t have the ability to make decisions about if, when, and how to grow our families—we don't have freedom."

Brett Wilkins ·


Deadly Glacier Collapse in Italy 'Linked Directly to Climate Change'

At least seven people were killed when a glacier slid down a mountainside near a popular climbing route in the Alps on Sunday.

Julia Conley ·


'Organized Whitewash': US Claims Israeli Military's Murder of Journalist Not Intentional

"The odds that those responsible for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh will be held to account are all but nonexistent," said the human rights group B'Tselem in response to findings of U.S. State Department.

Brett Wilkins ·


Hundreds March in Akron Enraged by Police Killing of Jayland Walker

"The police can do whatever they want," said one local resident through tears. "They can take our children's lives and think it's okay."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo