By | July 16, 2022

Joe Manchin pulled the plug in major climate change spending

AILSA CHANG, HOST:The night before, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia pulled the plug on major expenditures to combat climate change. Manchin admitted he was worried about the current inflation rate, however he is willing to negotiate further in the future. However Manchin’s co-workers Democrats are saying that his decision not to act prior to the recess in August could be fatal to any climate-related agreement before the midterm elections.

The NPR’s Laura Benshoff is here to assist us in understanding what this is for U.S. and its commitment to cut emissions. Hey, Laura.

LAURA BENSHOFF, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: OK. We’ve seen these talks halt and begin for what? At least one year now. What was available in the moment in relation to climate policies?

BENSHOFF: In essence, lots of money. There is already a huge energy revolution in the making. The trend is towards electric vehicles and renewable energy is increasing. The idea behind climate change spending included as part of both the Build Back Better bill in the past and the reconciliation talks the year before was accelerate this transition and help make the transition more accessible and which makes it more appealing for investors to make a decision. In the last few months, the size of the federal subsidy was said to be around $300 billion as of the time, with Democrats cutting and adjusting the bill to keep Manchin in the loop. Trevor Higgins with the Center for American Progress offers an illustration of a program that is being considered that would encourage the production of clean energy in areas that rely on coal, including Manchin’s home state , West Virginia.

TREVOR HIGINS: And he has increased all of this. He has done it, according to him, due to inflation. However, these investments were made to lower the cost of energy.

Change: How did Manchin explain his reasoning here?

BENSHOFF: He appeared in an interview to the local radio station on the radio in West Virginia this morning, and he stated that the year-over year increase is the thing that made him think. The numbers were released this week. The energy costs are a factor in inflation. They accounted for about one-third of the price rises that we’ve seen over the past year and nearly half as per the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. However, the Democrats who favored climate action believe that Manchin has missed a chance to tackle inflation by refusing to implement a the policy that would have provided subsidies for energy. It’s important to note that NPR called Manchin’s office a few times and haven’t received a response as of yet.

Change: No response. Okay. It’s time to remind everyone that the president Biden has promised that his administration will cut U.S. emissions by, roughly, half by the time the decade was over. What is the best way of taking care of this issue?

BENSHOFF: Not very good. I spoke to Jesse Jenkins, who leads an academic team located at Princeton University which models the effect of federal policy on the climate goals. He also says that since Biden was elected the amount of Congress’s actions on climate change has not made any progress.

JESSE JNKINS: It is very likely that United States will fall well in the middle of our climate goals without the Senate adopting a green energy investment plan.

BENSHOFF: Representatives from renewable energy producers also echoed this. It’s true that the demand for solar and wind energy is on the rise. However, in order to allow America to be able for the U.S. to cut emissions at the speed it desires to, they’ll need accelerate their pace significantly.

Change: Ok. But, I’m asking do you have other options that are available? Do you have a Plan B or a Plan C? Do you have a suggestion?

BENSHOFF: I know environmental groups claim that the failure of a project is not an option. Every step is more effective than none. In a press release today President Biden has pledged to use executive orders to address issues like security of the energy supply and to combat climate change. However the orders typically bring litigation from oil and gas firms or GOP State officials which means they could be a source of contention in the courts. It’s true that this is a matter that, in the absence of legislative action will likely not be a possibility in the years to be.

CHANG: That is NPR’s Laura Benshoff. Thank you for your time, Laura.

BENSHOFF I am grateful to you for inviting me to your home.

 

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