Dems fight for Climate Plan C as Manchin crush their dreams

Dems fight for Climate Plan C as Manchin crush their dreams

“Sen. Manchin must weigh the fact that he may have certain opinions, but he also has a responsibility as chairman on the Democratic caucus of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,” said Senator Martin Heinrich (DN.M.), who spoke. private with Manchin after his statement on Tuesday that the carbon tax was “off the board”.

“So he has to be true to his views and his own state, and also take that responsibility for the caucus seriously,” Heinrich added.

For Manchin, the moment is the pinnacle of his career as a stick in the mud for his party’s climate policy — a position that has helped him win reelection. After all, in 2010, in one of his ads, he literally shot a hole through the Democrats’ cap-and-trade law. The Senate is evenly split, so Democrats need him to advance their legislation, but some fear he plans to reduce the climate component too much to bear them.

Democrats don’t have much time to debate further as Biden and party leaders try to reach an agreement with Manchin by the end of the month. Whatever Democrats can get through Congress on climate will be far more sustainable than anything Biden can do through executive action, so lawmakers are determined to convince Manchin now, before they can lose their majority.

“Of course it’s frustrating. But it’s also just part of the negotiations,” D-Mich Senator Debbie Stabenow said of the state of play with Manchin.

Manchin is aware of how sensitive the issue is to his colleagues. After his conversation with Heinrich, Manchin initially protested: “The more I talk, the angrier everyone gets. So I stop talking.” But later, when approached in the Senate basement, Manchin rejected any suggestion that he is trying to sink the climate change component of his party’s bill.

“My God, absolutely. Crime,” Manchin said if he wants a strong climate component. “The bottom line is, and I’ve been saying from day one: innovation, not elimination.”

He went on to say that due to a global increase in emissions and the continued construction of power plants outside the US, the Senate “must find an answer to carbon sequestration in one way or another, shape or form.” Currently, carbon capture technology is expensive and has not been proven to work at the scale needed to put a meaningful dent in the country’s emissions footprint.

In addition to the $150 billion proposal to pay utilities to transfer their energy resources and penalize utilities that don’t, called the Clean Energy Performance Program, Democrats want to put hundreds of billions of dollars in their bill to tackle climate change. Most of the emission reductions they envision would come from tax cuts to help deploy wind, solar and other clean energy sources, as well as electric vehicles.

They also want to finance a civil climate corps to deploy young people for environmentally friendly projects. Other desirable climate action provisions include a methane allowance and massive investments in energy efficiency improvements.

“I’m disappointed he doesn’t agree to the biggest game-changer for climate change. But there’s about $300 billion in other utilities,” D-Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono said of Manchin, adding that “I think that he will support some of the other provisions, perhaps not to the extent” his Democratic colleagues want.

Worsening scientific warnings about the toll of climate change are increasing the urgency among Democratic supporters. A United Nations report this summer, called code red for the planet, found a 1.1 degree Celsius warming that had been ingrained since the pre-industrial era from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil.

Many Democrats still doubt they can eventually get Manchin on board with the scale of climate investment they want. Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Tuesday he wasn’t sure how the party line would handle climate change.

“I hope there are areas – I think there are areas – where we can reach agreement,” Durbin told reporters. “There are things he disagrees with — clean electricity is one of them.”

Privately, the Democrats are trying to produce something big that can win Manchin’s vote. An environmental lawyer close to the negotiations told Mediafrolic that a “Plan C” on climate change could mean putting tons more money into grants, loan guarantees and other programs aimed at reducing emissions.

sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said more money could go into research and development: “There are things that make a big difference that Joe agrees to.” And Senator Angus King (I-Maine) said more energy storage could be feasible for Manchin.

“He has been more receptive to climate-related legislation this year than I expected” [he’s from] a coal state and all that history,” King said.

That still poses a dilemma for Democratic leaders, as supporting a deal that relies heavily on voluntary and research programs will almost certainly disappoint climate advocates on and off the hill. Dozens of Democrats have vowed for months to oppose legislation that isn’t strong enough on climate regulations under the slogan “no climate, no deal.”

Behind the scientific reality, however, lie political ones. Democrats are eager for Biden to appear at the global climate negotiations in early November with proof that the US can count on delivering on its commitments to combat emissions. The fear is that without a national clean electricity program or an economy-wide carbon tax, other countries won’t buy the president’s rhetoric.

sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said this week he cannot support an appeasement bill without a climate component. But he claimed his party could still go big without a carbon tax or a new large-scale clean energy transition program, by raising clean energy fiscal incentives and “using other tax powers beyond a broad carbon tax”.

Senate Chris Coons (D-Del.), who co-chairs the bipartisan Senate Climate Solution Caucus, said Democrats are having “targeted talks” this week to find “the most possible way forward.”

Manchin has urged the House to pass the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, pouring billions into climate resilience. He says that if that can happen before Biden goes to the climate talks in Glasgow, it will show the world that the US is serious.

But many Democrats say that’s not enough.

“Resilience is not a solution; resilience is treatment. If you have a heart condition, yes, you need treatment for it. But it’s better to have a healthy heart,” Heinrich said. “And that’s what climate policy is about.”

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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