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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Munchkin protests likely cut key to Biden’s climate agenda

WASHINGTON — The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda — a program to rapidly replace the country’s coal and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear power — will likely be removed from a big budget bill pending in Congress, According to Congress employees and lobbyists are familiar with the matter.

Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III of coal-rich West Virginia, whose votes are key to passing the bill, told the White House that he strongly opposes the clean power program, according to three people who attended. As a result, White House staff are now rewriting the law without that climate provision, and trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut emissions.

A spokesman for the Biden administration declined to comment, and a spokesman for Mr Manchin did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The $150 billion clean electricity program was the muscle behind Mr. Biden’s ambitious climate agenda. It would reward utilities that have switched from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and penalize those that do not.

Experts have said the policy will lead to drastic reductions in greenhouse gases warming the planet over the next decade and will be the strongest climate change policy the United States has ever implemented.

“This is the most important climate policy in the package,” said climate policy expert Leah Stokes, who is advising Senate Democrats on how to structure the program. “We basically need it to meet our climate goals. That’s the reality. And now we can’t. So it’s very sad.”

The setback also means President Biden will have a weak hand when he travels to Glasgow for a UN climate change summit in two weeks. He hoped to point to the Clean Electricity Program as evidence that the United States, the world’s biggest emitter of planet-warming pollution, was serious about changing course and leading the global effort to fight climate change. . Mr Biden has vowed that the United States will cut its emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The rest of the world remains very wary of the United States’ commitment to tackling global warming after four years in which former President Donald J. Trump openly ridiculed the science of climate change and created policies that encouraged more drilling and burning of fossil fuels.

“This would create a huge problem for the White House in Glasgow,” said David G. Victor, co-director of the Deep Decarbonization Initiative at the University of California, San Diego. “If you see the president coming in and saying all the right things with all the right aspirations, and then whether he can deliver, that’s one of the earliest tests, it begs the question of whether you’re going to be on them.” can believe.”

Democrats had hoped to include the Clean Electricity Program in their broader budget bill that would also expand the social safety net, which they plan to introduce using a fast-track process known as reconciliation that allows them to would allow it to pass without any Republican votes. The party is still trying to figure out how to get that budget bill passed, as well as a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

For weeks, Democratic leaders have vowed that the clean electricity program was a non-negotiable part of the law. Progressive Democrats called “No Climate, No Deal!” Rallies chanting slogans.

Mr Biden had hoped that the law’s enactment would clean up the power sector, which produces about a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gases. He wanted a program with influence that would last well after he left office, no matter who was in the White House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday morning at an event in San Francisco that she is still pushing for the strongest climate change provisions in the bill.

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“Everything we’re doing here today is specifically about the climate piece,” the California Democrat said. “This is our moment. We can’t – we don’t have any more time to wait.”

Democratic presidents have tried but failed to enact climate change legislation since the Clinton administration. During a year of record and deadly droughts, wildfires, hurricanes and floods that scientists say have been worsened by climate change, Democrats hoped to garner enough political support to eventually enact a stronger climate law, Even scientific reports say the window is closing fast to avoid the most devastating effects of a hotter planet.

A major scientific report released in August concluded that countries should immediately move away from burning fossil fuels to avoid a future of severe drought, intense heat waves, water shortages, catastrophic storms, rising seas and ecosystem collapse. To avert the catastrophe, scientists say nations must prevent average global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But as countries continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the average global temperature has already risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius.

Even as Pelosi vowed to protect those climate provisions in San Francisco, at least four people in Washington called the clean electricity program “dead.”

Senator Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat and the program’s lead author, said dropping it could win Manchin’s vote on the budget bill, costing him and other Democrats focused on the environment.

“We should have stronger climate action in the Build Back Better budget,” she said. “I am open to all perspectives, but as I have said, I will not support a budget deal that does not require us to go to climate action. There are 50 Democratic senators and we have every vote to get this budget passed. will be needed.

Mr Manchin, who has personal financial ties to the coal industry, initially intended to write details of the program as chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Mr Manchin was considering a clean electricity program that would reward utilities for switching from coal to natural gas, which is less polluting but still emits carbon dioxide and can leak methane, another greenhouse gas. Is. Mr. Manchin’s home state, West Virginia, is one of the nation’s top producers of coal and gas.

But in recent days Mr Manchin has signaled to the administration that he is now outright opposed to the clean energy program, people familiar with the discussions said.

As a result, White House staff are scrambling to calculate the impact on emissions from other climate measures in the bill, including tax incentives for renewable energy producers and tax credits for consumers who buy electric vehicles. Unlike the clean energy program, tax incentives expire after a certain period of time, and a more sustainable strategy does not have the market-shifting power.

Those other programs include nearly $300 billion to expand existing tax credits for utilities, commercial businesses and homeowners who use or produce electricity from zero-carbon sources such as wind and solar, and buy electric vehicles. $32 billion in tax credits for individuals with It could also include $13.5 billion for electric car charging stations and $9 billion to update the electric grid, making it more conducive to circulating wind and solar power, and from federal buildings and vehicles. $17.5 billion to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

But, analysts say, while those spending programs will help make the transition to a lower-emissions future easier and cheaper for the U.S. economy, they are unlikely to reduce emissions at the same pace that clean Electricity program. .

It’s also possible that Democrats may try to push the clean electricity program as a stand-alone bill – but the deadline for doing so is getting shorter, with the 2022 midterm election.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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