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To Appease Manchin, Clean Electricity Could Be Dropped From Biden Spending Bill

To Appease Manchin, Clean Electricity Could Be Dropped From Biden Spending Bill

A central component to the Biden administration’s climate agenda could be dropped 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 $150 billion program in danger of being terminated would incentivize utilities to increase the amount of clean energy that they use and would issue penalties to those that do not switch to renewable energy.

The White House will “likely” cut from its spending bill a program to replace coal- and gas-fired power plants in the US with wind, solar and nuclear energy, the New York Times reported on Friday. Manchin has personal financial ties to the coal industry.

If Manchin’s opposition does ultimately kill Biden’s clean electricity program, it would be a huge setback for the administration’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis. The Biden administration has previously said that its clean energy plans would swiftly cut planet-heating emissions, and estimates have suggested that it could save hundreds of thousands of lives from deadly air pollution. In August, Biden also set a goal for half of all new vehicle sales in the US to be electric by 2030, and will tighten pollution standards for trucks and cars.

The Times reported that Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia who has been aggressively resisting President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, has told the administration that he strongly opposes the clean electricity program. The White House is now rewriting a version of the legislation that excludes that climate provision, the paper said. The administration is reportedly trying to come up with other alternative policies that could further cut emissions.

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“He plans to gut Biden’s climate plan, and with it the chances for swift global progress,” tweeted Bill McKibben, the prominent environmentalist.

Democrats could still attempt to move forward with a clean electricity program as its own bill, but that the window of opportunity is closing. Both 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.

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