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Regional News

Manchin seeks bipartisan ‘sweet spot’ for a new try at his energy permitting bill

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When:
October 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
2020-10-12T10:00:00-04:00
2020-10-12T13:00:00-04:00
Where:
Warren County Extension Office
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators from both parties said Wednesday they still hope to negotiate energy permitting reform bill this year, reviving efforts to streamline the process after West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III had to pull back his plan amid broad opposition.

The Manchin proposal was attached to a must-pass government funding bill as part of a deal he struck with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer this summer to advance the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act. But permitting reform was rejected by GOP senators irked by that deal and members of his own party.

large group of House Democrats — and a smaller Senate cohort — intensely opposed what they characterized as a fossil-fuel-friendly measure from the start, saying Manchin would weaken environmental protections and make it more difficult for communities to object to new construction. The House opposition was led by progressive Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva, but also included leaders of budget and spending panels.

Senate Republicans meanwhile refused to endorse the Manchin-Schumer deal that allowed the passage of Democrats’ sweeping climate, health and taxes bill this summer, even if they agreed in principle that permitting requirements should be updated.

Despite the widespread condemnation of his measure, Manchin said Wednesday he expects to keep working to get an agreement before the new year, a goal many of his fellow senators said they share.

Manchin said he plans to talk with fellow West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, when the two are back in their home state next month, noting he’s optimistic the duo can work out a final bill.

“We just have to find the sweet spot, find the middle that kind of appeases the majority,” Manchin said.

The centrist Democrat nodded when asked by a reporter if Schumer had assured him he’d try again with another floor vote.

Mountain Valley Pipeline in Roanoke County near the Blue Ridge Parkway in July 2018. (Ned Oliver / Virginia Mercury)

Mountain Valley Pipeline

After stripping Manchin’s permitting bill from the must-pass government spending package, Schumer pledged Tuesday evening to “have conversations about the best way to ensure responsible permitting reform is passed before the end of the year.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement Tuesday night saying President Joe Biden “supports Senator Manchin’s plan because it is necessary for our energy security, and to make more clean energy available to the American people.”

“We will continue to work with him to find a vehicle to bring this bill to the floor and get it passed and to the President’s desk,” she added.

Whether Manchin’s bill would still include the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline running from West Virginia to Virginia was unclear on Wednesday.

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, who was furious Manchin’s permitting reform bill included approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, said he believes there’s a good outlook for a bipartisan permitting reform bill, estimating it could get at least 70 votes in the Senate.

Work on permitting reform by the Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Manchin, has already found a good starting point for a bipartisan bill, Kaine said.

“They worked on it very, very carefully,” Kaine said, noting he’s not on either of those panels. “I don’t want to tell them what their timing should be. But they’re down the road, and there’s a bipartisan group that wants to do it, including me.”

On the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Kaine said he didn’t want to get into “a hypothetical world and what might be acceptable.”

But Kaine, who has said he was not consulted about the inclusion of the pipeline in the Manchin plan, did say the way Manchin handled the pipeline in his bill wasn’t the right way to go.

“It was taking something out of permitting and saying, ‘You don’t have to comply,’” Kaine said. “But permitting reforms could make the process better, and then Mountain Valley and others could have a better process to go through.”

Republicans want another try

During a brief interview Wednesday, Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines said he hopes there’s a way for Democrats and Republicans to draft a bill after the elections and before the next Congress begins that both parties could support.

“It’s an issue that we need to address. And it’s a significant obstacle to continue to allow us to develop our natural resources,” Daines said. “It’s not just about energy. It’s also about forestry. It’s about mining, and it takes way too long to get projects approved.”

Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy said a permitting reform bill is essential for lawmakers who want to see more fossil fuel extraction as well as those who want “cleaner forms of energy.”

“I hope we can sit down and put together a permitting bill,” Kennedy said. “I mean, no fair-minded person can believe that it should take five, seven, eight years to get a project permitted in America. I don’t care what the project is.”

Kennedy said the rejection of Manchin’s permitting reform bill was about more than just signaling the GOP wanted a more bipartisan bill.

He said it was about members of both parties sending a message to Manchin following months of negotiations on the Democrats’ spending package from this summer that included money for renewable energy, among dozens of other provisions.

“What I saw happen yesterday — how can I explain this — two wrongs rarely make it right, but they do make it even,” Kennedy said. “And what happened yesterday was people who are unhappy with Senator Manchin, on both sides of the aisle, made it even.”

“We now have a fresh start, and I hope we can sit down and put together a permitting bill,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he’d like a final, bipartisan energy permitting reform bill to set firm end dates for studies into energy projects.

“I don’t want to foreclose anybody’s right to study or object, but have some hard and fast rule saying this is the end of the process,” he said. “Two or three years is plenty of time for people to be able to study a project before a decision has to be made.”

Louisiana GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said more lawmakers than just Schumer and Manchin need to be involved in drafting the measure if it’s going to have any chance of becoming law and improving the energy permitting process.

“I’d like to have some sort of shot clock with teeth so that agencies can’t just sit on an application and do a pocket veto of things that otherwise meet every criteria. This permitting reform did not really have that,” Cassidy said.

He said he doesn’t mind if a bipartisan bill gets attached to an unrelated must-pass bill, saying he’s “never a purist on procedure.”

Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester said he’d like to have more input in negotiating the permitting reform bill.

Tricky path

If senators, and possibly their U.S. House colleagues, work out a bipartisan bill, Schumer will have to decide how to move the legislation through the floor.

Given the amount of time it takes to move stand-alone legislation on the U.S. Senate floor, and the short amount of time the chamber will be in Washington, D.C., during the lame duck session following the midterm elections, several lawmakers have floated the idea of attaching permitting reform to a must-pass bill.

One possible option is the National Defense Authorization Act, the Pentagon’s annual policy bill, which Schumer has said the chamber will take up during October.

That option might not be especially appealing to panel members who have traditionally walled off the bill from policy proposals that aren’t directly related to defense or national security.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, a Senate Armed Services Committee member, said Wednesday she doesn’t want to see a permitting reform bill tacked onto the defense policy bill.

“I don’t know that that’s a good idea. I’ll be honest,” Ernst said. “I’d rather see germane amendments being placed, and we have a lot of amendments that we would like to see come up that are germane. So to have one that’s not germane be placed upon the NDAA would probably create some heartache.”

Jacob Fischler contributed to this report.

by Jennifer Shutt, Virginia Mercury


Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Governor Glenn Youngkin declares State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Ian

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When:
October 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
2020-10-12T10:00:00-04:00
2020-10-12T13:00:00-04:00
Where:
Warren County Extension Office
220 North Commerce Avenue
Suite 500
Front Royal VA 22630
Cost:
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Contact:
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Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to impact portions of Virginia starting on Friday, September 30, 2022.

“Hurricane Ian is a large, powerful storm, and current predictions indicate that it may impact parts of Virginia later this week into early next week,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We want to ensure that our communities have the resources to respond to and recover from any potential effects from the storm. While we recognize that the storm track is still uncertain, I nevertheless encourage all Virginians and visitors to make a plan, have supplies on hand, and follow official sources for the latest forecast information and guidance. Suzanne and I will pray for those in Florida in the storm’s path.”

This State of Emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and equipment for response and recovery efforts. Virginians should be prepared for the potential of severe rainfall, flooding, wind damage, tornadoes, and other storm-related impacts.

The Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) actively monitors the situation and coordinates resources and information to prepare for this storm. The Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) will coordinate preparedness, response, and recovery efforts with local, state, and federal officials.

The full text of Executive Order 22 is available here.

Recommendations for Virginians

Make a plan. Plan in advance a route to a safe place, how you will stay in contact with family and friends, and what you will do in different situations. Additional planning resources are available at https://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare/make-a-plan/.

Prepare an emergency kit. For a list of recommended emergency supplies to sustain your household before, during, and after the storm, visit VAemergency.gov/emergency-kit.

Stay informed. Virginians should follow the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for preparedness updates and their local National Weather Service office for the latest weather forecast, advisories, watches, or warnings. Download the FEMA app on your smartphone to receive mobile alerts from the National Weather Service. Power outages are always a concern during weather events—make sure you have a battery-operated radio available to still receive life-saving alerts.

For more information about preparing your business, family, and property against hurricane threats, visit VAemergency.gov/hurricanes and ready.gov/hurricanes.

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State News

Governor Glenn Youngkin to recognize October as Virginia Wine Month

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When:
October 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
2020-10-12T10:00:00-04:00
2020-10-12T13:00:00-04:00
Where:
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Governor Glenn Youngkin invites Virginia wine lovers across the Commonwealth and the U.S. to celebrate Virginia Wine Month. October signals the peak of harvest for over 300 wineries, and vineyards as the next vintage of Virginia wine is underway.

“Our local Virginia wine industry continues to flourish and is an integral part of the Commonwealth’s rich agricultural and tourism sectors,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Virginia Wine Month is a chance for Virginians and visitors to celebrate and show support for the hard-working farmers and winemakers responsible for bringing world-class wines into your glass.”

Virginia Wine Month is the nation’s oldest consecutive wine month and attracts millions of tourists to the region. Consistently ranked within the top ten wine regions in the U.S, Virginia Wine generates an estimated $1.73 billion in economic impact and over 10,400 jobs for the Commonwealth, according to a recent study.

This Virginia Wine Month features a limited edition wine release of Cornus Virginicus, a special collaboration between the First Lady of Virginia, Suzanne S. Youngkin, and Barboursville Vineyards. The wine was crafted to celebrate Virginia agriculture and will include a donation to Virginia 4-H and Virginia Future Farmers of America. To learn more, visit virginiawine.org/pages/cv.

From month-long events to local bundles featuring Virginia wines and artisanal foods, Virginia Wine Month celebrates the partnerships and local support critical to the success of Virginia Wine. Specifically, Harvest Party (October 15) is a day where people in the city, the country, and on the shore gather to toast the region’s richness and celebrate the bounty of Virginia-grown food and wine. Visit virginiawine.org/pages/hp-2022 for a list of events and offerings.

Featured restaurant and retail partners are bringing local favorites to Virginia wine lovers at a location near you. Stock up and plan your own Harvest Party at home with recipes, wine, and food pairings, and more here.

For interviews and more information about Virginia Wine Month, please contact Annette Boyd at 804-402-1896 or annette.boyd@virginiawine.org.

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Regional News

Afghan evacuees press for bill that could help give them US legal status

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When:
October 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
2020-10-12T10:00:00-04:00
2020-10-12T13:00:00-04:00
Where:
Warren County Extension Office
220 North Commerce Avenue
Suite 500
Front Royal VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Warren County Extension Office
540-635-4549

WASHINGTON – For 105 days, beginning in December 2021, Afghan-American Safi Rauf lived in an 8×8-foot cell in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan with few connections to the outside world.
Now, he is running a 24-hour “fireguard” with dozens of other volunteers outside the United States Capitol to raise support for the Afghan Adjustment Act.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, meets last week with a group of supporters holding a “fire watch” outside the United States Capitol in support of the Afghan Adjustment Act. (Eve Sampson/Capital News Service)

The bipartisan bill, introduced in both the House and the Senate, would provide Afghans who worked with the United States during the 20-year war in Afghanistan a clear path to legal residency.

The Afghan Adjustment Act was not included in the stopgap spending bill to fund the federal government after Friday. Supporters hope it will be included in the upcoming defense policy bill or an expected continuing resolution in December.

The Department of Homeland Security reports that approximately 82,000 Afghans have been evacuated to the United States since the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s rise to power.

Most evacuees live in this country under humanitarian parole status, which normally lasts two years. The bill would allow Afghans who pass additional vetting to apply for permanent legal status.

Rauf, a Navy reservist and the founder and president of Human First Coalition, a nonprofit that works to provide humanitarian aid and resettlement assistance to vulnerable Afghans, estimates his organization has evacuated over 10,000 people from Afghanistan in the last year.

The nonprofit chartered several flights after U.S. forces left Afghanistan. But when visiting the country for a planning trip last December, Rauf and his brother, Anees Khalil, who also works for Human First Coalition, were taken hostage by the Taliban and tortured.

“You cannot prepare for something like that,” he told Capital News Service. “Every day was incredibly hard. Initially, they put us in a basement that was not really fit for living. It was just a basement that did not have any ventilation, any blankets, any mattresses.”

Rauf said he and his brother were forced to go a month without showering while wearing the same clothes.

Bathroom breaks were scheduled and supervised, and meals were scarce – meager portions of tea, rice, beans, and bread. Rauf said his captors left the lights on all day. He spent most of his time lying down, marking a calendar he scrawled on the wall.

The brothers eventually attempted multiple hunger strikes to protest their treatment.

Eventually, the U.S. government secured the brothers’ release on April 1.

“Our world basically stopped on December 18,” Rauf said. “When I got out on April 1st, the world had moved on.”

Still, Rauf cannot slow down. He is haunted by the hundreds of calls he still receives from Afghans begging for help.

“I’m still getting chaotic messages from people who are scared for their lives,” he said. “The administration is doing their best, but how do you work with a de-facto authority that doesn’t recognize human rights?”

In folding chairs outside the Capitol building, former Afghan pilots and parliamentary members are among the volunteers who help themselves to traditional Afghan food while petitioning for the legislation’s passage. The American flag waves alongside the Afghan flag in front of a folding table with information about the bill.

On Thursday evening, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, who introduced the bill in the Senate, came out to the lawn for an impromptu visit with the group.

Addressing the volunteers, who included members of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, Women for Afghan Women, and various former military members, Kloubacher thanked the group for continuing to campaign for Afghans.

“I thank you for sitting out here on the lawn to remind our colleagues that promises made, promises kept,” she said, her hand upon the shoulder of an Afghan woman. “And there (are) promises made to the people who stood on the side of democracy and freedom with our military in Afghanistan.”

 

By EVE SAMPSON
Capital News Service

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State News

Virginia governor rallies with Kemp to aid bid for suburban Atlanta votes

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When:
October 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
2020-10-12T10:00:00-04:00
2020-10-12T13:00:00-04:00
Where:
Warren County Extension Office
220 North Commerce Avenue
Suite 500
Front Royal VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Warren County Extension Office
540-635-4549

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin held a get-out-the-vote rally for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in Alpharetta Tuesday. Youngkin has been campaigning for Republican candidates in battleground states like Georgia. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder

 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin joined Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the Atlanta suburbs Tuesday in hopes of firing up conservative voters in an area that has been moving toward Democrats in recent elections.

Kemp took the stage in Alpharetta’s City Center with Youngkin, whose narrow win last year and success in suburban areas made him a rising star in GOP politics. Youngkin has been campaigning for Republican candidates in other battleground states, like Michigan and Nevada, stirring speculation about his own political aspirations.

“Every state in America deserves a Republican governor,” Youngkin told reporters when asked whether the 2024 election speculation has become a distraction for him.

Youngkin advised down-ballot Georgia Republican candidates to follow Kemp’s lead and focus on inflation, education policies, and crime. Both governors promoted their states’ decision to issue a one-time special refund to taxpayers this year.

Kemp and his opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, have both said they would support issuing another refund next year, though they have differing visions for what to do with the rest of the state’s budget surplus.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin stumped for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in Alpharetta, a northern Atlanta suburb. (Jill Nolin / Georgia Recorder)

“Elections are about the future, and we’ve got to be standing for something,” Kemp said to the crowd Tuesday. “We’ve got to give people a reason to vote for us, and we’re gonna do that. Because when we get back in January after we win this election, we’re gonna send another billion dollars back to the taxpayer because we have excess revenue to do that.”

Kemp has been leading Abrams slightly in the polls, but the last day of voting is still six weeks away. When asked Tuesday if the Democrats’ ground game was still a concern of his, Kemp quickly responded “damn right it is.”

“I will tell all those people out there, don’t believe any of these polls. You cannot underestimate their ground game,” he said. “We cannot get overconfident. We have to work like we’ve never worked before, and we have to have a ground game quite honestly that can compete with theirs. And I believe this year we’re going to do that. We’re never going out to outspend them, but I do believe we’re going to outwork them.”

Kemp pushed for and signed into law several controversial education bills earlier this year, including one measure setting the stage for the Georgia High School Association to require transgender athletes to play on the team aligned with the gender identified on their birth certificate. And he was cheered Tuesday after saying, “we’re going to make sure that we have fairness in girls’ sports,” when rattling off a list of education-related policies.

On the same day Youngkin stumped for Kemp in Georgia, students from more than 90 Virginia schools participated in a planned walkout to protest Youngkin’s proposed rollback of transgender-inclusive K-12 policies.

“Glenn Youngkin is just the latest out-of-touch wannabe 2024 contender headed to Georgia who — just like Brian Kemp — cares more about protecting his political career than fighting for hardworking families,” said Alex Floyd, spokesman for the Abrams campaign.

Keeping Trump at arm’s length

Youngkin’s narrow win last fall over Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor, was seen as an encouraging sign for Republicans just one year after President Joe Biden won the swing state.

Kemp was among those watching the Virginia governor’s race closely from afar. Abrams was more directly involved: She traveled to Virginia to campaign for McAuliffe.

Youngkin’s win was also notable at the time because he received Trump’s endorsement but still managed to maintain distance from the polarizing figure.

Like Youngkin, Kemp is trying to appeal to the state’s pro-Trump base while targeting more moderate suburban Republicans who may have been turned off by the former president. But unlike his Virginian counterpart, Kemp has been a favorite target of Trump’s ire ever since he refused to help overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

“Kemp essentially is hoping to replicate what Youngkin was able to achieve in Virginia, and that is hold on to the bulk of the Trump vote but then also bring into the fold those anti-Trump Republicans who voted for Joe Biden or voted for Raphael Warnock,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock.

“The other part is that Youngkin, like Kemp, never trashed Trump, but on the other hand, he always kept Trump well at arm’s length. Now, Brian doesn’t have to worry about keeping Trump at arm’s length. Trump is at least that far away and maybe further. But Kemp would like to be able to run again without Trump having an influence.”

With limited effect, Trump backed a slate of GOP candidates in the state’s primaries. Kemp easily defeated Trump’s pick for governor, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, but two of the former president’s other favored candidates, Herschel Walker and Burt Jones, will appear on the ballot this November.

Trump is said to be considering a Georgia rally next month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported. That’s not good news for Kemp, Bullock said. Even if Trump doesn’t directly attack Kemp, any continued talk about a stolen election in Georgia could stir up the anti-Trump vote and hurt Republicans on the ballot, he said.

This story first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, a sister publication of the Virginia Mercury within the States Newsroom network. 

by Jill Nolin, Virginia Mercury


Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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WCHS vs Brentwood – Thursday, September 29, 2022 – Varsity Football

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When:
October 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
2020-10-12T10:00:00-04:00
2020-10-12T13:00:00-04:00
Where:
Warren County Extension Office
220 North Commerce Avenue
Suite 500
Front Royal VA 22630
Cost:
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Contact:
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Joins us on Thursday, September 29, 2022, when the Warren County High School Varsity Football team takes on Brentwood District High School. Catch the pre-game action starting at 6:30 pm.

Can’t make the game? Watch the game LIVE here on the Royal Examiner.

 

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Historic Area. During Fall Farm Days’ Nature Weekend, get in touch with nature and explore a managed landscape rich in biodiversity. Discover native flora and fauna, learn the craft of beekeeping, the importance of various[...]
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WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
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Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
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11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
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The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
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