Senator Joe Manchin will become the Democrats' top member on the Senate committee devoted to energy issues.
In a news release Tuesday, the lawmaker said he was "excited" by the opportunity to serve as Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
"West Virginia is a leading energy producer and major contributor to advanced energy technologies, and I intend to ensure this progress is continued," he said. "The problems facing our country are serious, and I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common sense solutions for long-term comprehensive energy policy that incorporates an all-of-the-above strategy and ensures our state and our nation are leaders in the energy future.”
Manchin's ascension to top Democrat on the Senate energy committee gives the lawmaker a prominent platform to shape environmental policy
The committee covers a wide range of issues including public lands, the electricity grid, energy technology and policies that affect nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable energies; Manchin will help set priorities and hearings for the legislative body.
The appointment has drawn criticism from some environmental groups and some fellow Democrats who worry Manchin may not be progressive enough on climate change and the transition away from fossil fuels.
Manchin has served as a member on the committee since 2010. He is replacing Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Oregon, who will become the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee.