Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin joined his Republican colleagues Monday in support of President Joe Biden's decision to approve a massive oil drilling project in Alaska, despite a number of his fellow Democrats accusing the administration of contradicting its own climate policies.
"I welcome today’s Record of Decision (ROD) that finally reapproves the ConocoPhillips Willow Project in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve," Manchin, who serves as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. "This is a long awaited and critical step towards shoring up American energy security."
"Responsible development of our abundant natural resources is essential if we are to maintain our status as the superpower of the world, capable of supporting our allies around the globe," he said, noting there is need for further reform for permitting drill sites and calling it "a levelheaded decision that will strengthen Alaska and our entire nation."
CLIMATE ACTIVISTS, DEMS TURN ON BIDEN OVER LIKELY ALASKAN OIL DRILLING PROJECT: ‘AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT’
The Biden administration announced Monday that it was moving forward with approving the massive 30-year oil drilling project over objections from climate activists and Democrat lawmakers about its environmental impact.
Biden received sharp backlash from Democrats following the announcement, especially from the far-left "Squad," but as those Democrats fretted the project's approval, Manchin's office touted his record on energy production over the past year, including on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Speaking with Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for Manchin noted that during last year's debate in the Senate over the IRA, which Manchin praised as legislation that would help lead America to energy independence, he voted against every proposed amendment to the bill, including those introduced by Republicans that they said sought to achieve Manchin's goals on American energy production.
MASSIVE OIL PROJECT SPARKED CIVIL WAR WITHIN BIDEN ADMINISTRATION, LAWMAKERS SAY
Manchin's spokesperson noted that such amendments would have been "poison pills" to the IRA and would have led to the bill getting no support from Democrats.
"Senator Manchin voted against every IRA amendment to protect the integrity of the legislation and all the energy security provisions within it and get it across the finish line," the spokesperson wrote. "Without Senator Manchin’s energy security provisions in the IRA, Gulf Lease Sale 257, the largest US offshore sale in history, would not have been reinstated, nor would the 3 mandatory offshore lease sales been required."
"Further, Senator Manchin linked offshore renewables leasing to oil and gas, which means that at least 60 million acres need to be offered to allow the wind leasing program to continue," the spokesperson added.
BIDEN INDEFINITELY BLOCKS MILLIONS OF ACRES OF LAND, WATER FROM FUTURE OIL DRILLING
Manchin's spokesperson went on to describe the senator's urging the Biden administration throughout last year to develop and implement a five-year oil and gas leasing plan, as well as to increase oil production.
Ahead of Monday's decision by the administration, Manchin maintained his sharp criticism of Biden's "radical climate agenda," specifically on delays to a five-year offshore oil and gas leasing plan, and even tanked one of Biden's nominations for a position within the Department of the Interior over the nominee's climate activism.
Fox News' Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.