Senator Joe Manchin smells a rat when it comes to the $83.7 billion investment that has been pledge in West Virginia by China’s state-owned energy giant.
“In West Virginia, they came and signed a [Memorandum of Understanding] for $83 billion, and I repeat, $83 billion over 20 years,” Manchin said on Thursday during a Senate hearing on the energy sector.
Senator Joe Manchin III is smart to be questioning such a huge investment by the Chinese in such a small state just outside DC. https://t.co/wOyaeuWish
— Nancy Peña-Brink (@NancyPenaBrink) July 26, 2019
“When you put that in comparison to the state budget of West Virginia, our state budget only goes over $4 billion a year, so something doesn’t make sense here, and we cannot find out what their intent is,” Manchin said.
There were similar concerns by other lawmakers. The size of the investment is not relative to the state’s output. Also there are many details lacking about the nature of the deal.
Business agreements were reached between the U.S. and China during President Trump’s 2017 visit to China. Governor Jim Justice said there would be “shovels in the ground” by the following year.
Despite these promises, nothing has happened yet. There has not yet been any money spent in the state by China Energy Investment Corp.
Manchin backs the investment “if it’s for capital expenditure.”
“If it’s for removing resources such as the ethane, propane, butane, and taking a commitment of taking all of our wet gas, which we use as a building block to reinvigorate our petrochemical base, then I would hope for the officials in my state of West Virginia that that is a nonstarter,” Manchin said.
Federal investigators have made certain aspects of the Chinese investment difficult. China Energy was blocked from building new power plants by local executives and state lawmakers.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capital (R-WV) has not yet commented on the situation.