Dems scramble, seethe after Manchin kills climate bill – E&E News

December 20, 2021 by No Comments

An explosive chain reaction of finger-pointing and hand-wringing followed Sen. Joe Manchin’s declaration yesterday that he would oppose President Biden’s signature climate bill.

Climate experts started scrambling for workarounds to compensate for the money and policies killed by the West Virginia Democrat’s decision that he announced during a “Fox News Sunday” interview yesterday. The White House began picking up the pieces of a political coalition riven by distrust and recriminations. And climate diplomacy, already staggering from this year’s disappointing global climate summit, was poised to sink to a new low.

The bill’s defeat would mark the third time since 1993 that Democrats have failed to pass a climate law after winning unified control of government — only now, scientists say there’s no time left to preserve a safe climate.

Global temperatures already have risen about 1.1 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels. Biden has set a goal of cutting U.S. emissions in half by 2030 — roughly the same rate the entire world must follow, scientists say, in order to keep warming well below 2 C.

The $1.7 trillion “Build Back Better Act” opposed by Manchin would have directed $550 billion to climate policy, the largest pot of money in the bill. The version passed by the House included over $300 billion in clean energy tax credits and a methane fee for the oil and gas industry.

Its collapse raises new problems for Democrats’ 2022 midterm campaigns, as well as future international efforts to combat global warming. While Republicans have united against meaningful climate action, President Biden staked his domestic and international reputation on finding consensus on this issue — at least among his own party.

But Manchin, who owns a coal company, continues to reject the notion that climate change demands urgent action. He called the climate provisions in Biden’s bill “catastrophic.”

Manchin’s position left many climate activists and scientists despondent and defeated. Some maintained there were still ways for the United States to confront climate change, but they acknowledged that Manchin’s opposition was a gut punch to the movement.

“There’s no putting lipstick on a pig,” said Alden Meyer, a senior associate at climate policy think tank E3G. “If it’s the end of the Build Back Better legislation, it’s a real blow to U.S. climate ambition and the White House is going to have to come up with strategies to work around that.”

Manchin singled out clean energy as a major reason he would vote against the “Build Back Better Act.” That leaves Democrats with no clear path for moving substantial climate policy through Congress, even if they manage to advance other …….



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