A central component of the Biden administration's climate agenda may be pulled from the massive budget bill that is pending in Congress due to opposition from Senator Joe Manchin, according to a report in The New York Times on Friday.
The White House will likely cut from its spending bill a program to replace coal fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy in the US. The Times reported that coal power plants in the US burned by coal - and gas fuels.
The Biden administration has previously said that its clean energy plans would swiftly reduce planet-heating emissions, and estimates have suggested that it could save hundreds of thousands of lives from deadly air pollution. In August, Biden had also set a goal for half of all new vehicle sales in the US to be electric by 2030 and tightened pollution standards for trucks and cars.
The $150 billion program that is in danger of being terminated would incentivize utilities to increase the amount of renewable energy they use and would issue penalties to those who don't switch to clean energy.
The Times reported that Manchin, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia who has been aggressively opposing pieces of Biden ’s agenda, has told the administration that he opposes the clean electric program. The White House is now rewriting a version of the legislation that excludes this climate provision, the paper said. The administration is reportedly trying to come up with other alternative policies that could further reduce emissions.
The Times says Manchin has personal finance links to the coal industry.
If Manchin'opposition does eventually kill Biden clean electricity program, it would be a massive setback for the administration in its efforts to tackle the climate crisis. He plans to gut Bilbo Brown's climate plan, and with it the chances for rapid global progress, tweeted Biden.
The Times noted that Democrats could try to move forward with a clean electricity program as its own bill, but that the window of opportunity is closing.
A spokesman for the White House declined to comment to the Times.
Manchin spokeswoman Sam Runyon did not comment directly on the report, but told the Guardian that Senator Manchin has clearly expressed his concerns about using tax payer dollars to pay private companies to do things they re already doing. In July, a consortium of researchers reported that the country's primary policy proposals to solve the climate crisis would provide large net benefit to Biden administration from a combination of different priorities.
Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema have repeatedly clashed with the Biden administration and progressive Democrats, threatening to derail the president's ambitious economic package.