- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has informed Democratic leaders that he will not support new spending on climate initiatives, according to multiple media reports, likely scuttling chances for a package of clean energy tax breaks and incentives.
- The news comes just days after leaders of utilities and clean energy developers pressed for Congress to support tax credits for wind, solar and batteries, expand efficiency incentives and grow clean transportation.
- Clean energy advocates called the decision “tragic” and said it puts humanity at risk.
“Today’s news makes it clear that Senator Manchin is determined to stand on the wrong side of history,” Earthjustice President Abigail Dillen said in a statement. “We’re in a climate emergency with no time to spare, and this announcement is a tragic setback for desperately needed congressional action.”
“It seems odd that Sen. Manchin would choose as his legacy to be the one man who single-handedly doomed humanity,” John Podesta, founder and chair of the board of directors at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement.
President Joe Biden has set a goal for the country to consume 100% clean electricity by 2035 and for half of new car sales to be electric by 2030. Even without new spending there are things the federal government can do to address climate change, advocates said.
“The president must put the full powers of the federal government to work and keep his promise to catalyze climate solutions, reform federal fossil fuels policy, and aggressively rein in fossil pollution,” Dillen said.
“With legislative climate options now closed, it’s now time for executive Beast Mode,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., tweeted Thursday night, appending a thread of energy recommendations for the president. Whitehouse said Biden should consider implementing a “robust” social cost of carbon rule, require carbon capture “from all major emitters,” and enact stricter limits on co-pollutants from fossil fuel plants, among other policies.
Democrats failed to pass a $3.5 trillion spending bill last year after Manchin said he could not support the package because of concerns about the cost and the impact on fossil fuels. It had seemed negotiations had been restarted, but news reports and a statement from the West Virginia senator’s office appear to dash any hopes.
“Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire,” his spokeswoman, Sam Runyon, said in a widely-reported statement.
“The consequences will be profound,” Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund, an affiliate of the Natural Resources Defense Fund, which she also leads. “This failure falls squarely on Joe Manchin and the Republicans, as do the barren croplands, flooded homes, and incinerated communities that will result from this inaction.”